Genesis 1 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Chaos to Creation

Genesis 1:1-2:3

INTRO

-Why are we studying Genesis? 

-Serves as the foundation for the rest of the Bible and our lives. If we understand the purpose/reasons/rational behind the beginning of the book, the rest of the book will start to make sense

-Imagery/ideas that are begun in the Genesis will see fully fleshed out in Revelation

-There has been a lot of ink spilled on how to interpret Genesis, fun stuff worth discussing, but not what we’re going to be focusing on through our study

-These chapters deal with so many of the issues we’re facing today: what does it mean to be human? Who is God? Why do bad things happen? Where did things go wrong? How did we get here? How are the 2 sexes supposed to interact with each other?

-What I would like to propose to you as the purpose of the Bible from beginning to end is: worship. Genesis 1 is meant to demonstrate why God is superior to all the other false gods people have created, we’ll see that explicitly on day 4, thus God alone is worthy to be worshipped, praised, and glorified.

READ/PRAY

-We are storied beings. All of us have a story we use to frame everything that takes place around us.

-How do you think of yourself? You are a product of your story! You’re the athletic one, you’re the smart one, you’re the musician, you’re the finance guy, the boss mom, whatever it is, all of us have built up some kind of narrative in our minds about who we are why we’re the way we are.

-I think the most obvious example of this is spending time with your family! Don’t you have a tendency to revert back to how you were in high school? Same issues come up, same jokes are told, same stories are brought back to life

-That’s just a little example, think of how stories have affected cultures: George Washington chopped down a cherry try “I cannot tell a lie.” Columbus: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Who “discovered” America? Weren’t there already people here?

-Founding of the city of Rome: Romulus and twin brother Remus founded Rome on the site where they were suckled by a wolf as orphans.

-Out of the competing stories that were enacting and affecting the cultures around them comes the one true story.

-By referring to the Bible and this narrative as a story, does not mean it’s untrue! I wholeheartedly believe the events recorded here actually happened! Just as much as I believe the story that I was born on October 12, 1988 in Lake Forest hospital, just outside of Chicago-land. I don’t remember it, I know I’m here, I know that’s my story, I believe it to be true, just as I believe the events written down by Moses here in Genesis 1 are a true account of what happened.

-With that said, nothing explicit in this text to tell us who the author of Genesis is: tradition tells us Moses wrote the first 5 books of the OT (Pentateuch) and I haven’t seen an argument to convince me otherwise! As Heb. 1:1 reminds us “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets” One of those prophets was Moses!

-Over these next 3 weeks as we look at the beginning, I want to remind us what we in the EFCA believe regarding the beginning. We’ll come back to it again, so you don’t need to memorize this, but this is what our SOF says.

  1. In the Beginning (1-2)

-Verse 1 serves as the title to this whole book (Genesis is the Greek transliteration of “beginning”), verse 2 tells the background of what’s going on, and when we get to verse 3 that begins the narrative telling what God did.

-It’s important to note how carefully crafted this first section is. Verse 1 has 7 words, verse 2 has 7×2 words. God is mentioned 7×5 times. In this context, 7 refers to completion/perfection.

-This verse has some profound theological truths that I want us to realize:

-In the beginning. There was a time when there wasn’t anything. God has no beginning or end, that just blows my mind, because all of us have a beginning, but no end. It almost feels like “once upon a time,” but this one is telling us how everything came to be.

-God. The subject, the main part, the focus of these first 7 words (in Hebrew) is Elohim-God. What is the first thing we learn about God?

-created. This Hebrew word means “making something new.” New City Catechism Question 2: What is God? God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.

-All these things are deep, rich theological truths from just the first verse!

-Need to talk about the first rule of hermeneutics: the text cannot mean today what it didn’t mean when it was originally written. There is meaning, purpose, and intent to the words of the text. Always, always, always begin with the meaning to the original audience.

-Space travel wasn’t a “thing,” very limited in their scope of planet earth, so when we come across words like “heavens and earth.” We generally think of the 8 planets (RIP Pluto), stars, galaxies, and a big blue ball spinning around the sun. When the original audience heard these 2 words they thought: sky and land. Sky is everything above, land is everything below. They weren’t dumb, they just didn’t have the same grasp of some of these things we’re blessed to witness today.

-Similarly, vs. 2 uses some words they would understand differently than we do: without form, void, darkness, deep all refer to nothingness. Similarly the “waters” is the primordial state before anything came about.

-“Spirit of God” this word translated spirit is fascinating throughout the Bible: breath, wind, spirit. Remember this idea when we get to the flood which is going to serve as a new creation, God causes a ruach to blow over the earth and blow away the waters. This finds its ultimate fulfillment at the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:2 the sound of a mighty rushing wind. God’s final act of recreation was finally here! 

  • God Said (3-31)

-“God said” is repeated 10 times in this section, pointing to another 10 times God would lay the rules by which His people are meant to operate in the 10 commandments. 

-The theme of “separating”: light from dark, water from water, water from land

-Repeated phrasing, “God said” begins each day, “And there was evening and there was morning” ends each day.

-Days 1-3 are creation of the different areas, days 4-6 are the filling of those same domains (we’ll see that as we walk through)

Day 1 – Light

-Light is created to contrast to the darkness that pervaded this primordial world

-This begins a theme throughout the whole rest of the Bible: light is good, darkness is bad. John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

-Notice how easy this is. God says something, it automatically happens. Contrast that with some other competing stories of how the world came to be:

-Babylonian account of creation: Marduk kills the goddess Tiamat (the salty sea) and uses her carcass to fashion heaven and earth

-Other ANE accounts talk about the gods being stressed by work, so humans are created to bear the weight of their working.

-In contrast to these oppressive, mean, and chaotic ways of the world coming into being comes this story of a speaking God.

-That tells us another theological truth about God: God speaks and is thus relational. He’s not far off removed from ever interacting with His creation, instead He is a speaking God who cares about His creation.

-Some astute observers may note that light/darkness comes before the sun and the moon. I’ve known some people who refused to become Christians because of that fact! 

-First things first, Hebrew people didn’t necessarily see a contradiction with this, dawn/dusk are light without the sun. 

-Second, did you know astronomers recently found light spread throughout the galaxy that has no known source? “They’re saying that there’s as much light outside of galaxies as there is inside of galaxies” I love seeing science catch up to what God has revealed to be true!

Day 2 – waters 

-The dome above and the waters below. Heaven/the skies were viewed as a big bubble of water (makes sense as water comes from above and below!) Separation once again between the 2 waters

-“And it was so.” 

-This leads to it now having sky, air, etc. 

-Seas were often seen as gods in ANE, but this says it’s something God made

Day 3 – land 

-Begins by separating the water from the land. Almost looks as if the water is drawn away to expose that which is underneath it.

-Notice God naming things. In ANE thought naming was equated with ruling/governing/creating. Points, again, to God being a relational God 

-This separation is good. But he doesn’t stop with just creating land, the land becomes hospitable for the subsequent creatures: vegetation, seeds, fruit

-“According to their kind.” God orders all of these things, creates boundaries for them, allows them to flourish.

-Boundaries bring about creativity, unstructured freedom is chaos!

Day 4 – sun and moon

-First 3 days are creating the environment, these next 3 correlate to the first 3 and fill them out

-Day 1 is light, day 4 is the where the light comes from: sun and moon. 

-First, notice that they’re not named anywhere? Other religions viewed them as gods, here God won’t even refer to them by name! They’re called “the greater light” and “the lesser light.” God doesn’t play by everyone else’s rules, He is the one true God, no other god can compare to Him so He isn’t even willing to mention their names.

-Notice as well, the purpose of these lights: separating again the day from night, signs and seasons and days and years. Their purpose is to keep seasons and reminders of God’s continued faithfulness.

-These lights, these signs and seasons are good.

Day 5  – the waters/spaces are now hospitable and filled with creatures

-The space created by the separating waters are now filled with birds, the waters below are filled with all sorts of sea creatures! 

-They are created by “kinds,” God’s limitless creativity is bounded by His creation.

-This creation is “good.” Unique in that they are the first ones blessed by God, and given a mandate: Be fruitful, multiply, fill the sea and the land.

Day 6 – land creatures and humans

-“Let the earth bring forth.” Where the previous creation was out of nothing, this day the creation is refined.

-It also is a much longer section than any of the previous days, where the previous ones were in double speed, day 6 comes to a screeching halt and emphasizes everything that happens.

-Land animals are all created “according to their kind.” And they’re good.

-Then the pinnacle of creation: humans. The only thing in the entire created order that represents God – other things point to him, humans are made to image/represent Him.

-This “image of God” idea is worth studying further, I don’t have time today, but what this refers to is being his representatives/serving at His bidding. At the time, kings would have statues made and then distributed throughout their kingdom to bring their “image” to rule/reign over their entire domain. So when God creates humans in his image, they are meant to be distributed throughout his kingdom to bring his “image” to rule/reign over His entire domain.

-Then these humans are blessed by God, in what is known as the “creation mandate.”

-Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, have dominion over fish, birds, animals. Part of this creation mandate is the command to work in subduing the earth. The Garden of Eden wasn’t like an all-inclusive resort where you sit back sipping Mai Tais and watch the world go by, Adam and Eve are given jobs to do in ruling with God over the created order. We’ll look at that a little more fully next week.

-This section ends with everything being tov maod – very good. Only reason I remember that is my Hebrew prof would speak Hebrew in class, if you answered right you’d get tov maod, and my motto for the class was: lo tov – no good!

-One last thing to remember, before we get to the last day: Keep everything in its’ proper order/kind! Humans are not animals and should not be treated as animals. Animals are not plants and should not be treated as plants. Seems like an obvious point, but our world is confusing these things! Even down to being gendered beings: male and female TOGETHER image God into the world! Male in and of itself cannot adequately image God, and female in and of itself cannot adequately image God. We’ll look more fully at this next week, again.

-These 6 days serve as the foundation for the rest of creation, and then God finishes His work. 

  • God Rested (2:1-3)

-Look at the wording of this finishing: where else does God say He’s finished? When Jesus dies on the cross, bearing the penalty for all of the sin that came about when creation was thrust back into chaos – just as God finished his work in creation, there His work is finished in redemption.

-Then this day is unlike the previous days because God blesses this 7th day. Up until this point it’s the creation that’s blessed, this time God blesses a day and sanctifies it.

-Just as God rested, so He commands his people to rest. In Ex. 31:13 God tells His people: “‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.” This pattern of 6 days on/one day off actually sets God’s people off as unique from everyone else. It demonstrates to everyone our trust in God. Prevents work from becoming an idol. Ultimately, the sabbath rest reminds us that we are not God! We can’t work 24/7 and thrive, we need rest.

-Now – notice this 7th day has no end. All 6 previous days said “evening/morning the ___ day” This is a way of saying everything was as God intended it to be.

-Just as God rested, so we’re to find our ultimate rest in Him. Augustine: “Our hearts our restless until they find their rest in Thee.” 

-This story gives us a glimpse of God’s heart toward his creation, His desire to live in perfect relationship with Him, and our job of joining with God in bringing order from the chaos of the world around us. Do you see that as your aim, as your story, as your reason for living? Where do you fit within this storyline that God has used to reveal to us? 

Philippians 4:2-9 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Gentle and Lowly

Philippians 4:2-9 (571)

Intro:

-It’s hard to believe 9/11 was 20 years ago. I still remember the clothes I was wearing that day! I saw a couple FB posts yesterday that talked about wishing we could go back to how unifying September 12, 2001 was.

-The reality is, we’re in a VERY different cultural moment than we were in 2001. (not just in the clothes people are wearing!) We, as Christians, need to take some to evaluate where we’re putting our stock, because there’s some things that we need to be ALL IN on, and others that we need to let go of completely.

-Listening to a podcast on Monday that struck me like a load of bricks: we as Christians are called to be gentle.  

READ/PRAY

-Theme of the letter in 1:25-26 “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,”

-Today, we would call this a “missionary letter,” Paul helped plant the church, they sent him to continue planting churches, he writes to inform them how he’s doing, how he’s still praying for them, and remind them of the truth of the gospel and the implications of that Good News.

-Quick primer if you haven’t been here, the gospel is what compels everything we do. In 1 Cor. 15 Paul calls the gospel that which is of “first importance,” but the gospel also compels us to live in certain ways. The gospel is the means by which we are saved, and the means by which we are sanctified (DEFINE)

-If you’ve here and you’ve never heard the gospel before, 4 words: God, man, Christ, response.

2 Cor. 5:14 says it this way “the love of Christ controls/compels us.” The gospel, as demonstrated in Christ’s love, compels us to live in some specific ways that are contrary to our human/sinful nature.

2 Cor. 5 is also one of Pastor Bruce’s favorite passages to talk about growing like Christ – it goes on to talk about the need for reconciliation. 

-One of the implications of that reconciliation to God is it compels us to reconciliation with each other, which is exactly what Paul talks about in the first 2 verses of this section.

  1. Reconciliation (2-3)

-One quick note before we dig in:

-First, these letters were read in the corporate gathering of the church! And Paul had the audacity to call out 2 people by name! How would you feel if in the middle of the church service, I get up and start talking about a conflict you’re having with someone else?

-First thing to note is how little information Paul gives us. Apparently this conflict was a big enough deal that everyone knew what he was talking about.

-Can’t be doctrinal (look at the end of vs. 3)

-Notice how gently Paul asks: doesn’t shame them (apart from having their names read in the whole church), doesn’t call down his apostolic authority, doesn’t demean them “entreats” them. Think of Proverbs 15:1 “a gentle answer turns away wrath.” We’ll look at that a little more in the next section.

-Paul doesn’t even give much help, just “agree in the Lord.” Isn’t that overly simplistic? But sometimes, just an urge to “agree in the Lord” isn’t enough.

-Look at vs. 3

-When, in the midst of conflict, it can be nearly impossible to push through it on your own. That’s where bringing a 3rd party in can help both sides start to see/hear the other sides’ perspective. 

-It often seems that, in conflict/disagreements, we neglect the Bible’s command: be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry (James 1:19). 

-This is also a time where we need to remember Jesus’ commands in Matt. 18 – if you’re brother/sister in Christ has sinned against you, GO TO THEM! Then, if after going to them, bring someone else along, then if that doesn’t work, bring 1 or 2 other people along, then if that doesn’t work, go to the leadership of the church, but it BEGINS with 1 on 1, not quitting, not giving up, not gossiping or getting other people involved. GO TO THEM.

-This is true in churches too. There are legitimate reasons to leave a church, I’ve heard some doozie! But most of the time it’s because we’re not being obedient to the biblical command to “live at peace with everyone.” (Rom. 12:18)

-A couple other notes about this: 

-Reconciliation is not just “get over it” and pretend as if nothing happened. It’s talking, sharing your hurts and difficulties and doing your best to understand where the other person is coming from. It’s not jumping to conclusions based on what you heard! A pastor friend who works for a peace making ministry said we need to “listen to understand.” 

-Reconciliation is not done at the expense of the truth. There are legitimate times to divide from people who are preaching/living in ways that run contrary to the gospel. But notice the orientation of this agreeing: IN THE LORD. So important to have a theological triage. CS Lewis had a great analogy about this in Mere Christianity: orthodox Christianity brings you into a Great Hall which has various side rooms for the differing denominations/theological traditions, fun places to go sit in for a bit, have a chat, then come back to the feast in the great hall! When we come back to the Lord as the foundation for everything else, all these other issues seem trivial. He who has been forgiven much forgives much. 

-Lastly, the verb Paul uses here “agree” appears back in Philippians 2:5. Paul is pointing Euodia and Syntyche to “agree” about the mind of Christ.

-Because of that we are to:

-Not look at ourselves as having a high station

-Empty/humble ourselves

-We don’t get exaltation without humiliation

-Carson, “Personal differences should never become an occasion for advancing your party, for stroking bruised egos, for resorting to cheap triumphalism, for trimming the gospel by appealing to pragmatics. Focus on what unites you: the gospel, the gospel, the gospel.” (129)

-When we have reconciliation, it is going to look like us living/operating in some specific ways:

  • The Heart of Christ (4-7)

-This section is a list of characteristics that should be true in the life of every believer.

  1. Rejoice

-Because of the reconciliation that is found in Christ, we can rejoice, when? ALWAYS. So important that he says it twice! Again, doesn’t that feel kind of naïve? 

-Feels like he’s asking us to be Pollyana, running around acting as if everything is always 100%, no issues, no problems, I’m just happy all the time. Like the Pharrell Williams song “Because I’m happy: Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.” No matter what I’ll be happy and clappy with a smile 24/7. You almost want to say that’s cute Paul, but have you seen my life?
-But Paul doesn’t just say “rejoice” and then leave us to figure it out – our rejoicing has an orientation: IN THE LORD. Church, you and I are blood bought precious saints in the sight of the Lord. God brought us from death to life, God has seated us in the heavenlies with Him! If you can’t hear those truths and rejoice somethings wrong!

-D.A. Carson Basics for Believers: “If we fail to respond with joy and gratitude when we are reminded of these things, it is either because we have not properly grasped the depth of the abyss of our own sinful natures and of the curse from which we have been freed by Jesus or because we have not adequately surveyed the splendor of the heights to which we have been raised.” (130)

-When Paul came to Philippi to plant the church, do you remember what happened? He and Silas are jailed, chained to the wall, and they SING! That’s someone who is filled with joy! 

-That’s where Paul can say “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” When he’s thrown in prison he sings and then leads the jailer to the Lord! How frustrating was Paul to the works of Satan? How frustrating to Satan is your joy?

  • Gentleness

-I have no clue why, but this verse had never stuck out to me before! This is where I love reading the Bible over and over again, it will always meet you where you’re at and then work to conform/change you to become more like Christ.

-This word translated “reasonableness” is somewhat difficult to translate, includes things such as: non-insistence, yielding, kind, courteous, tolerant, clemency. This difficulty can be seen in the way the various translations state this phrase.

-One quick note: we NEVER tolerate/are gently with sin! What we are to tolerate is people who are “working out their salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12) John Owen: “be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”

-What are you known for? Your position at work? The car you drive? Your kids? What are people’s first description when they hear your name? In Acts 4:36, there’s a guy named Joseph, who was so encouraging, he was given the nickname Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” What we as Christians, and as a whole church are meant to be known as is: gentle. When you are wronged, respond with gentleness. When you are frustrated, respond with gentleness. When you are angry, respond with gentleness. When you are happy (or joyful), respond with gentleness. 

-Do you think when the world looks at the church their first thought is gentleness? Google search: “what is the most judgmental religion.” 

-I’ll confess, the world seems to be getting crazier and crazier. Saw a post this week that said “do you like post-apocalyptic movies? Well you’re in one now!” Talked to someone this week who said they felt like it the world was coming to an end, and how should we as Christians respond? With gentleness. 

-I’m not saying don’t have convictions, but keep them in their proper order. Politics is dominating so many conversations today, and I’ll be honest, it feels like both the Right and the Left are going crazy! There are people in this room that vote differently than me, every election cycle I pray their candidate loses! But those are issues for outside of here, here inside the church we need to leave the crazy at the door, and come in here to be reminded to be gentle toward each other. The gospel means I need to move toward, not away from, someone who disagrees with me. That’s what Jesus did! Have you ever looked at Jesus’ list of disciples? This astonishes me! In the same group of 12 he had: Simon the zealot, and Matthew the tax collector. The zealots viewed it as their job to kill anyone who was colluding with the enemy, AKA a tax collector! Now I don’t think most people on either side of the political aisle today have gone THAT far! But when the love of Christ compels us, political ideologies fall away compared the beauty of the gospel! Have those conversations and LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND with GENTLENESS.

-Screwtape Letters, #7: “I had not forgotten my promise to consider whether we should make the patient an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist. All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged. Not always, of course, but at this period. Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them yet faster asleep. Other ages, of which the present is one, are unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our business to inflame them. Any small coterie, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a hothouse mutual admiration, and towards the outer world, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the “Cause” is its sponsor and it is thought to be impersonal. Even when the little group exists originally for the Enemy’s own purposes, this remains true. We want the Church to be small not only that fewer men may know the Enemy but also that those who do may acquire the uneasy intensity and the defensive self-righteousness of a secret society or a clique. The Church herself is, of course, heavily defended and we have never yet quite succeeded in giving her all  the characteristics of a faction; but subordinate factions within her have often produced admirable results, from the parties of Paul and of Apollos at Corinth down to the High and Low parties in the Church of England.”

-Extremism to anything other than Christ is a lie from the pit of hell that we need to repent of in order to pursue Jesus’ heart towards us: gently and lowly.

-I LOVE theology, a love a good theological debate/discussion, I have at times made my theology my god, and it makes a bad god: let’s go back to God, how He’s revealed Himself in His Word, and live in the community he’s called us to. We do not fight against flesh and blood.

-1 person I was listening to about this idea this week said “The news feed of heaven is very different from the news feed of earth.” What makes the headlines of heaven? When someone moves from death into life, when you grow in gentleness.

-What would it look like for us to take this command seriously and work to grow in gentleness in every one of our responses? Paul actually tells us how we can do that!

-It begins by this throwaway comment: the Lord is at hand. God is near! That’s why we let our gentleness be seen by everyone, it’s not our gentleness, it’s God’s gentleness being demonstrated THROUGH us. “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20)

  • Do not be anxious

-Do you ever get anxious about what’s going on around us? I was at a conference Indianapolis in April when most Twin City suburbs were put under a curfew. I couldn’t head home to make sure my family was safe, I was anxious! Goodness, just scrolling through FB or a news feed is enough these days to make me anxious! Once again, it feels like Paul is being unreasonable. Have you seen the world? Is this even possible?

  • Pray to God

-This is how we’re not anxious, when we start to worry/fret/become despondent, we bring it all to God.

-I’ve shared this before, but your knee jerk reaction as a Christian is supposed to be to pray! This is especially true when you start to feel anxious. 

-It’s not just suck it up, it’s not pull yourself up by your bootstraps, it’s not squelch your emotions, it’s casting them on the Lord, because He cares for you. Martin Luther: “pray and let God worry.”

-This means of dealing with anxiety leads us to:

  • Eternal peace

-I’ve often heard this verse used without the context to tell people to just chill out. You’ll have the peace of God, so you don’t need to worry! But the only way we get to this peace is by crying out to God, because He cares for us! 

-This peace comes only by living out and believing the truths from the rest of this section. We rejoice all the time, we always respond in gentleness, when we start to feel anxious/worried we cry out to God, then we will be peace filled people.

-I want you to notice 1 thing about this list: compare it to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Joy, peace, gentleness, kindness between Euodia and Syntyche 

-These fruit are not meant to be understood in isolation from each other. Fruit is singular: we are supposed to demonstrate each one of these characteristics. None are optional!

-The last thing about this peace is that it’s what guards our hearts and minds. Even the way we think is meant to be gentle.

  • Dwell on This (8-9)

-Look at this laundry list: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellence, worthy of praise. Are those the things you are thinking about/dwelling on daily?

-Let’s flip it, do you instead dwell on things that are untrue, dishonoring, unjust, impure, unlovely, not commendable, wallowing in mediocrity, worthy of criticism.

-When you have nothing else to do/focus on, where does your mind go?

-God loves you so much, he even cares about your thought life. I think of Col. 3:16 “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” There is nothing better than dwelling on the Word of Christ! I gave the overseers some new homework this week: Bible memorization, next month we’re going to be reciting Phil. 4:4-7 to each other. Ask us how we’re doing with it! Join us in soaking/meditating/dwelling on these words!

-That’s actually what Paul says in vs. 9. You have people in leadership here to set an example for you. What you have learned from us, received from us, and then heard and seen, practice them. Get busy rejoicing, being gently, praying, and dwelling on the things of Christ.

-This is the kind of church I want to be a part of! Because we are commanded to be gentle, one person described the church as shock absorbers. As new people/unbelievers come in here who are stirred up/agitated about the state of our world, can you be gentle enough to absorb them into our midst and help them grow in gentleness? This is what Christ calls us to as a church! Putting on the mind of Christ, and responding with gentleness and lowliness. Today is September 12, but it’s 2021, not 2001, and the only way for us to see the same sense of comradery that we want to see again is by growing in gentleness. This is what Christ died for us to do: to demonstrate Him to everyone around us. Let’s roll towards that goal in all of our lives!

Psalm 10 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Where Did You Go?

Psalm 10

Intro:

-Major theme we’ve seen through these first 10 Psalms is there’s 2 ways to live: for/against the Lord.

-Way of the wicked/way of the blessed – Psalm 1

-way of the world/the way of the Lord – Psalm 2

-Today we’re going to be looking at that exact same theme: the way of the wicked or the way of those who are blessed/following God

READ

PRAY

  1. The Distance of God (1)

-Anyone who has been a Christian for a decent amount of time has gone through a season of questioning where God is.

-Pastor Bruce (and now Micah!) and I have been talking a lot recently about this “deconstruction” idea that seems to be running rampant in the church right now.

-Each generation, it seems, has a time period in which people start leaving the faith claiming that God isn’t real, that God doesn’t work in their lives, that they “tried” God out and he didn’t come through

-Augustine/Anselm of Centerbury “believe so that you may understand.” 

-What can the unbeliever know about God? Some things (common grace, the created order) but what I want to keep saying to those I read who are “deconstructing” is: have you actually been trusting in the one true God, or have you been looking at him as a way to get what you want? 

-Think of the parable of the sower that Jesus tells in Matt. 13, seed scattered on: path, rocky ground, thorns, good soil. Rocky ground is described as “this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” So why are we surprised when we see things taking place around us that Jesus told us would happen?

-This distance idea is a real thing! God at times will feel far away, even David, the man after God’s own heart struggled with feelings of isolation. 

-Brother/sister: when you feel like God has abandoned you, the first thing to remember is that is normal! Every relationship has ups/downs, seasons of closeness/intimacy and seasons of distance/indifference.

-One big difference though is in our relationship with God, one of those 2 people is perfect, which is why one of the things I first learned about God as a kid is God will never leave you or forsake you. (Deut. 31:6) or what we’re trying to teach our kids: when I am afraid I will trust in God. (Psalm 56:3)

-We also need to remember: theologically, one of the first things we learn, God is omnipresent (omnis are some of the basic ways to remember the incommunicable attributes of God, we are all finite, God is infinite)

-Grudem “The doctrine that God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point of space with his whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.”

-God’s manifest presence vs. omnipresence

-Distance is acutely felt in the “valley of the shadow of death” or “dark night of the soul” but in those seasons we need to think back to what we know to be true about God. 

-Reading a book about discipleship this week, “We shout doctrine in the light so that we can whisper it in the dark.”

-This is getting to what I talked about last week on the need for discipleship: 2 tracks of our “train” in growing as a Christian: life and doctrine. Need both! 

-Think back to what I’ve shared about a see-saw in relation to doctrine. If you emphasize only life you end up with a bunch of Christians who love their neighbor but don’t love God, if you emphasize only doctrine you end up with a bunch of people who love God but neglect to love their neighbor. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. Need doctrine to preach to ourselves, but we need to live out the doctrine we believe so the world can see that we’re different! 

-That’s the only way we will survive when the difficulties/struggles of life come our way, and they are guaranteed to come! I’ve shared this quote a couple times, but I still think it bears repeating: D.A. Carson How Long, O Lord? “The truth of the matter is that all we have to do is live long enough, and we will suffer.” In those times/seasons, push into your family, the church, come and be reminded that Jesus comes to walk with us in the midst of those difficulties, that Jesus came to bear our sorrows, lay them at HIS feet, because He cares for you.

-Think about this truth from Matt. 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heave laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you, and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

-Only place in all 4 Gospels where Jesus reveals his heart, his innermost self, and we could spend, we WILL spend eternity plumbing the depths of that idea!

-Brother/sister WHEN you are struggling, WHEN you are heavy laden, WHEN you world feels like it is falling apart, come to Jesus, he’ll take the burden and give you a light one because he is gentle and lowly in heart.

-But what do we do when it seems like those not following Jesus are flourishing?

  • The Depravity of the Wicked (2-11)

-There are 5 characteristics David gives us on the depravity of the wicked: arrogance, wealth, longevity, sinful speech, and violence. We’ll work through them one by one.

-It’s important to remember that these descriptions are from an earthly/human perspective, but that doesn’t always reflect the greater spiritual reality. Often a tendency for us to focus exclusively on how it affects the physical reality, and neglect to remember there’s a greater reality going on around us.

-Think of a passage like Eph. 6:12 “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” So as we read these items, this is how it appears to us in our natural human state. 

-First, arrogance (2-4)

-Notice who is the object of this arrogant spirit: the poor. The marginalized, those who have no voice to fight for themselves. Throughout history, those who most often bear the brunt of the sin of a culture, people group are the poor. 

-Lady at my first church (Cheyenne) who is now with the Lord, who was on welfare. Worked at a gas station making minimum wage, ministry of sending cards. One Christmas season she found some supplemental income doing seasonal work, showed up on her taxes and she lost her low-income housing, only house she could afford. Someone at church bought her a little house and rented it to her for the same price she was paying for her low income house, but she’d never have to move or worry about how much money she was bringing in. That was really eye opening to me! Yes, always people who are scamming the system, but there’s also those that are dependent on “the system” to survive, and for those of us who are in Christ, we’re called to love and care for those people who are in our midst. Acts 2 reminds us that in the early church there were no needy people. None. I get to see some of the ways this happens in our church! Benevolence fund, rides for people who need it, sharing medical equipment with others who can’t buy it. That’s a marker of someone who is not arrogant! 

-Now, notice the implication of how this arrogant, wicked person lives in vs. 3 by pursuing this sinful way of life, he renounces the Lord, he lives as an atheist proclaiming “there is no God.”

-That’s just the first marker! 

-Second, wealth (5)

-Again, remember this is merely from a humanistic perspective. From all external appearances, everything he does is prospering.

-Compare this with Psalm 1, describing the blessed man who obeys God. So which is it? Is the wicked prospering at all times, or is the blessed one who is obeying God? Spiritually, the blessed one is prospering all the time. 

-The underground church is Kabul was martyred last week. From all earthly/worldly appearances the blessed ones are not prospering and the wicked seem to have the upper hand.

-In the midst of this complaint, David remembered that God is the one true judge. God’s judgments are on a completely different level than the wicked, the wicked can’t even begin to grasp it! That gives us comfort, even in the midst of persecution/suffering! God and the wicked aren’t even playing the same game! God’s playing chess while the wicked think they’re winning by playing checkers

-As if that’s not enough, while he’s stuck playing checkers, he says that he has:

-Third, Longevity (6)

-Let’s be honest here, how many generations does it often take for people to forget your name? 2? Now maybe there are some people that change the course of human history (Jesus, Nero, Napoleon, Hitler come to mind) but for most of us, our life is a vapor and we’re forgotten shortly after we die. And even those names that I mentioned, how many of them built a kingdom that is still lasting? 1. So we know that’s not true! 

-Fourth, Sinful speech (7)

-Look at all these things that come out from him! This language demonstrates what is in his heart (“out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” Matt. 12:34) we also know from James 3 that the tongue is powerful. How many of you have lasting wounds because of a single sentence someone said to you?

-Paul even picks up this language in Rom. 3 to talk about the evidences for no one being righteous. Do your words reveal you to be the blessed one, or the wicked one?

-Last, violence (8-11)

-Look at all the ways he looks to pursue violence. He intentionally targets the poor and helpless. This is the antithesis of God who intentionally seeks to raise the poor/helpless. Think of that video I showed a few weeks back on the biblical concept of “justice.” What we seek to do with our positions of influence is lower ourselves to someone else, so that we can then build them back in Christ. 

-This is where the gospel intersects with these ideas. Jesus condescended to our level. Jesus came from the highest level possible (heaven/perfection) and lowered himself to our level so that we could be raised with him to the highest level possible. 

-Look at how this section ends in vs. 11 “He will never see it.” God sees everything. Every pain you feel, every misspoken word against you, every time you’re mistreated, God sees every single moment of every single day, and his heart toward you is gently and lowly. 

-That’s where this Psalm doesn’t end with the focus on the wicked, no, the wicked are nothing compared to God!

  • The Response of God (12-18)

-Because God sees everything, David (and we too!) can call on God to arise and deal with the injustice and brokenness we see around us. 

-David calls on God to bring about in the physical realm the spiritual realities that are happening around us. (14) God sees it so that he can take matters into his own hands, the helpless are to commit themselves to God (14), God will help the fatherless, and ultimately break the arm of the wicked (that is to take away their power)

-We today can pray that the wicked and evildoers come to an end. Even if we don’t see the implications of their wickedness on earth, we know that they will be punished for their sins.

-David ends on a high note here: where the wicked think they will have an everlasting reign, God really does reign as king forever and ever. Everyone else will perish, but God won’t.

-Because God is a sovereign (and perfect) king, he’ll hear and strengthen the afflicted, he will enact lasting, perfect justice as opposed to the “mere people” of earth

-What are we supposed to do when we’re in exile as the people of God? When it seems like the wicked are thriving and we’re not?

Jeremiah 29:4-9 

-Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their produce.

-You’re going to be there for a while (how long does it take to build a house?) 

-Gardens take at least 4 months to bear produce, and then to do that annually means it’s something to dig into and look for ways to flourish where you are.

-Seek to grow your families. One of the easiest ways for a community to grow is to have kids. Spend time with your family! I’ve been thinking a lot recently on the fact that my kids will have various teachers, friends, influencers in their lives, but I’m the only dad they’ve got. Parents: we have a job to do! But even if you’re not a parent, the other parents here need your help! We can’t do it alone!

-Seek the welfare of the city where I HAVE SENT YOU.

-Do you view your vocation as a place God has sent you? Do you view your house as a place God has sent you? Do you view your recreation as a place God has sent you? Schooling, shopping, eating, walking, working out. Every place you go you’re there for a reason. Salt and light.

-This is one of the primary ways we can stand strong against injustice and the feeling that God has abandoned us, by crying out to God, pushing into our church family that God has called us to, and working to see the flourishing where God has sent us. We know that the wicked won’t last forever!

-But until the wicked are dealt with, we still live on this earth. Until the wicked have their arms broken, we will still face difficulties, struggles, and maybe even persecution.

-There’s times in all of our lives where we are the wicked ones! So how do we respond when we realize that? Repent, cry out to God for help, push back into the church family God has given you, and get to work! 

-All of this serves as a picture of communion, because all of us are at times the wicked ones. We’re slow to seek God, we’re slow to seek justice, and we often act as if there is no God. But God doesn’t give up on any of us! He relentlessly pursues, continually loves, and continues working in our lives to draw us to Himself. That’s why we take communion – to remember that this world is not our home, that God dwells in all of us who are walking with the Lord.

Psalm 9 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Give Thanks

Psalm 9

-Wizard of Oz – the man behind the curtain. Looks impressive until you see what’s really back there.

-2 sections in this Psalm: one looks back, one asks for present help

-History of combining these 2 into 2 long Psalm (if you look at Psalm 10, no header) we’ll see the second reason in a bit

READ

PRAY

  1. Prayer for Past Deliverance (1-12)

-Begins with another musical note no one knows what this means (some translated it as “The death of the son”) 

-Again, we have no clue the bigger context, David wrote it, that’s all we’ve got

-We do know that it all these Psalms served as the corporate songs of the Jewish people throughout history, meaning the singers/writers have a vital part to play in the life of the church

-Have you ever thought about how music has a universalizing reach? Songs are written by 1 person or a small group of people sharing their thoughts/experiences, but when those thoughts/experiences get released out into the world, it becomes the mantra of a generation. 

-I love music. I collected CDs as I was growing up (mowed a lawn, got $20/week, bought me 1 new CD/week!)

-My favorite band toured on the 10th anniversary of their best album, the entire room sang along with every single song

-Music moves us, shapes us, fashions us, imbeds ideas into our hearts & minds – so be careful with music! It’s a gift/tool to help stir our affections toward the things of God – Gods loves beauty.

-Spurgeon: “Singing and preaching, as means of glorifying God, are here joined together, and it is remarkable that, connected with all revivals of gospel ministry, there has been a sudden outburst of the spirit of song.”

-Theological idea: New City Catechism question #2 Who is God? God is the creator of everyone and everything. God created beauty, God designed beauty, that’s part of the main idea from Psalm 8 – “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers” we are stirred/moved to worship.

-Someone in the church just got married, went to one of my favorite places in the world for their anniversary: Estes Park, CO. The reason places like Estes Park exist is to remind us of our finitude. You don’t look at mountains like that and go “wanna know how much money I have in my bank account?” 

-Secondly, if Estes Park is THAT beautiful now, what do you think it’ll look like when sin is no longer wreaking havoc on it?

-Similarly to places like Estes Park, which as beautiful, even art is/can be used to bring honor/glory to God. Music can be used to bring honor and glory to God. Writing. Working. Sleeping. Eating. Reading. Singing. Thinking.

-The reality is, God wants us to do things excellently, not as a form of pride, but to use our unique gifts/talents to be a blessing. Why am I talking about all this?

-This Psalm, combined with Psalm 10 are an acrostic. This wasn’t just written off the cuff, this took time and effort to create a beautiful poem that uses each letter of the Hebrew alphabet as a prayer point. 

-Ever thought of doing the same? Going through the alphabet as a prayer list. A – my sister Anna, B – thankful for the bread I ate this morning, C – God’s greatest gift of all COFFEE!

-Realize that we live our whole lives coram deo before the face of God. So even something as seemingly trivial as writing a song/poem can/should be an act of worship. God cares about beauty, He designed it, and inspired others’ skills/talents to write down thoughts/ideas that are beautiful works of art. The building of the temple in 2 Chronicles was done by skilled craftsmen.

  1. Thanksgiving (1-2, 11-12)

-David approaches God by giving thanks, with what? His whole heart.

-3 ways to approach God: no heart (shaking your fist at him), half-heartedly (what has He ever done for me?) whole heartedly (with all you’ve got!)

-God doesn’t want a little bit of you, He’s not asking to be your co-pilot, he’s looking to take over and redirect, refocus, re-shape everything you do!

-How are we to give thanks? By recounting ALL his wonderful deeds

-Maybe that’s why David uses every letter of the alphabet, it keeps his thoughts on track to continue recounting all the deeds God has done, A-Z! Maybe instead of the alphabet you need to use numbers: 1 – God, 2 – daughters, 3 – churches that loved me and my family and let me serve them.

-We, as the church, are commanded to be a thankful people, giving thanks with our whole hearts by remembering and celebrating all the things God has done, is doing, and will do in all our lives. How many blessings do we miss/neglect because we’re not taking time to be thankful for how God is working?

-As you read through the OT, does it ever strike you just how much time Israel is given to festivals and parties? Even Jesus when he comes is described as “eating and drinking.” Church, God has created us to be party people! Not saying we eat/drink in excess, but we even eat and drink to God’s glory, so I can eat my pellet smoked medium steak and really and truly enjoy it as God’s good gift, and we can invite our friend, neighbors, and even our enemies to come participate in a taste of the feast that will be waiting for us when Christ returns. Do you ever notice that one of the things Jesus does when He returns is feast, throw a big party? Where we’ll have the best family reunion in the world! But we’re not there yet.

-Notice in vs. 11 where we’re supposed to tell his deeds: the peoples. Share with all!

  • The Enemies (3-6)

-Just as David had enemies who were trying to subvert/destroy Him, we have an enemy who is doing his best to undermine the mission of the King, to distract us, to tempt us and to take us away from pursuing everything God has commanded us to do

-Remember what I said about a place like Estes Park, or even beauty, they’re meant to make us feel the need for transcendence, but what about those who don’t “give thanks with their whole hearts”, those who shake their fists at God?

-Almost like God vs. the world. The enemies will do their best to fight against him, to push against him, but who ultimately rules and judges? We’ll see this more fully fleshed out in vs. 7.

-Notice that these enemies stumble and perish. They can’t even keep themselves together. And when these enemies are compared to someone walking/living in holiness, God will bring about perfect justice.

-Not sure if you’ve been following what’s been happening in Afghanistan, but it is a humanitarian crisis. Read an article this week that contained some quotes from our brothers and sisters there “One brother described these days as “dark” and said they feel like a “storm.” Then he asked that we pray for “revival.”” Listened to a podcast that talked about Afghan Christians, for the first time, putting “Christian” on their identification card to set a new trajectory for their families, those people are now being singled out. A reported tweeted, “A person who works with house church networks in Afghanistan reports its leaders received letters last night from the #Taliban warning them that they know where they are and what they are doing. The leaders say they aren’t going anywhere. So it begins.”

-See, God has rebuked the nations, God will blot out their name forever, those in the Taliban serving Satan and his minions will face everlasting judgment for their sins, but it can be hard to keep that perspective when it seems like evil has the upper hand! 

-The word used to describe “wicked” in vs. 5 refers to those who are practical atheists, they hate God’s commands, commit sinful deeds, and speak lies and slander. 

Romans 1 describes these wicked people as “suppressing the truth.”

-Church, we need to remember not to suppress the truth, not to live for this world, this world is not our home! We are sojourner, aliens, and strangers. We need not fear any trial/tribulation here because what can they do, kill us? Then we see Jesus! What these enemies don’t realize is that they have an expiration date.

  • The Lord (7-10)

-But the Lord sits enthroned FOREVER. 

-Have you ever thought about the fact or reality that God has ensured that the church will never end, that His Words would be perfectly contained for millennia? 

-Multiple groups, civilizations, countries, rulers, laws, tribes, tongues, nations have done their best to eradicate Christianity from the face of the earth. Even “intellectuals” have declared “God is dead” since Nietzsche wrote that in 1882. But who is enthroned forever? And what is the purpose of His throne? JUSTICE. There’s that idea that we saw a couple weeks ago again.

-This idea ties us back to vs. 4. “You have maintained my just cause” 

-All of us want justice for ourselves, but what about when we’re the one deserving of the penalty for justice? 

-God is the one who judges with righteousness, and that righteousness, as we’ve seen throughout all these Psalms only comes by and through God Himself bearing the weight and penalty of these enemies who are opposed to God and His ways. Notice how those enemies are described in vs. 8

-world – people. The world is comprised of people, so people aren’t off the hook for the way the world is operating. That’s where we as the church have to be the city on a hill, light shining into the darkness, salt in the world who proclaim and demonstrate what justice looks like, because our world will keep fumbling around in the dark trying to come up with broken/inadequate solutions for a cross shaped problem.

-That’s what David says here in vs. 10 – “those who know your name” someone’s name in the OT meant something significant. Until my generation came along and started giving their kids names like “Apple” and “North West” names carried connotations. When God commands Moses to lead His people, He gives Moses His name, that is his character, his way of operating, his resume. So when you read in 1 John something like “God is love” that’s God using His name to remind us of truths about Him.

-What is the first thing you learn about someone? Their name! You have to teach that to kids – Calvin.

-‘It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.’ James 1:27 reminds us “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

-Religion is just a way of referring to a system of beliefs, your operating principle. What’s crazy about our religion, is it contains a relationship with God.

-After David has reminded himself of how God has worked in the past, he then turns to the present:

  • Prayer for Present Deliverance (13-20)
    • Deliverance to Praise (13-14)

-The theme of whining comes up again. David is in a tough spot and needs God to intervene on his behalf. He asks for God to be gracious, and to see/pay attention to his affliction. Why?

-So that he can return to praising God. Westminster Shorter Catechism question #1: What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. We are all created as worshipping beings, we’re created to worship God, but we don’t always do that! Because of the salvation freely given through belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, we get to praise Him together. 

-Everything you do, say, and are, is meant to be used to praise Him. Even our sufferings, trials, difficulties are an opportunity to rely more fully one Him than we did before! He won’t let anything go to waste!

-It’s one thing for s child of God to suffer, because we know the outcome, but what about those who are opposed to God, the enemies that were brought up in vs. 3-6?

  • The Nations (15-18)

-Remember the Wil E Coyote gifs I showed you 2 weeks ago? That’s how God views the nations. Pit they made, foot caught in their own trap

-The Bible calls those who are opposed to God foolish, and even the nations that are opposed to God and nothing compared to Him. Have you ever thought about the reality that no nation has existed forever? There was a time that the good old US of A didn’t exist. There may even come a time when the USA is a footnote in a history book somewhere. Every major nation has been defeated at some point. Egypt, Babylon, Rome, England. The ruins of the Roman Empire are tourist attractions today! The empire that tried to wipe out a flourishing Jewish sect called Christianity in the 1st Century. Who’s still standing today?

-So in response, God reveals himself (might only be after they die) but ultimately God will reveal Himself to everyone! Yet the wicked are still defeated by their own attempts to grab at power.

-C.S. Lewis The Great Divorce “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it.”

Selah

-It says the wicked shall RETURN to Sheol. 2 notes:

-Return signifies where they came from

-The biblical idea of repentance is the idea of returning. So everyone will return to something, either Sheol or the Father’s arms.

-Those are the ones whom forgot God, they will in turn be forgotten by God. What a terrible place to be!

-Lastly, see how evil these nations are: they neglect the poor and the needy. That’s exactly where we, as representatives of God are to care for those that our society deems as “poor and needy.” (James 1:27) Those who are evil don’t/won’t care for them, but they’re the very people God cares for. His Son was one of those poor/needy people! 

-In response to the way the poor and needy are treated:

  • The Lord Judges (19-20)

-No man can stand before God, we see in Psalm 2 that when the nations rage and the peoples plot IN VAIN, that God laughs at them! Everyone will have to face God someday and be judged for how they live.

-This idea goes completely contrary to the expressive individualism we see rampant around us. Talking with someone this week about our current education system. Did you know that originally public education was implement to help civilize people and train them to become good citizens? The purpose of education is to train people how to conform to the group/culture at large. Today, though, you’re not allowed to be conformed to some standard, the standard is supposed to be conformed to the individual.

-For we who are in Christ, we are to be conformed as a group into an individual – Christ. Our education in our faith is to be like Christ, and we all need to work to become more like him and help each other become more like Him “imitate me as I imitate Christ.”

-At the end of the day, all societies, nations, they’re just people, they’re not God! So why do we fear puny little men? God is giving his people (us) a peek behind the curtain here. Even if persecution comes for us, what are we afraid of, we’ve seen the little man hiding behind a curtain! Why do we worry/fret about our society decaying? We’re a part of a different society and we have a job to do! To reveal the little man behind the curtain for every other religion/ideology/thought that doesn’t have God as its’ foundation/author. One of the best ways we can do that is by giving thanks. This week, use the alphabet to give thanks! Come up with 10 ways God has blessed you. Every night Cara and I ask each other “what are you thankful for today?”

Psalm 7 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Vindicate Me, Lord

Psalm 7

-Robert Frost The Road Not Taken: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

-Marty Robbins “ I walk alone”

-Greenday “I walk alone, I walk alone” 

-LOTR “one more step it’s the farthest from home I’ve ever been”

-but what about taking the way that is narrow that’s been trod by millions of saints before us?

-Eugene Peterson A Long Obedience in the Same Direction “There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness. Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Religion is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure.”

-A expounding on last week’s idea “how long O Lord?” 

READ

PRAY

  1. David Pleads His Case (1-11)

0 – no one knows what Shaggaion means, used 1 other time in the OT. No one knows who Cush is! Benjaminite’s weren’t big fans of David.

-Saul was from their tribe, David replaced Saul

-Background to Psalm 3 reminded us that not everyone loved David. As part of Absalom’s revolt, David fled Jerusalem, Shimei, of the house of Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, threw stones at David, called him a worthless man that was cursed by God. 

-Therefore, not a stretch to think that whoever Cush is was saying the same thing

  1. Justice for Me (1-5)

-David begins by addressing God (again)

-Make a note of that! Underline it, highlight it, write it on your heart: within the first line of each of the Psalms we’ve read, David addresses God directly.

-Big difference between David’s addressing of God, and our addressing of God in the NT. God vs. Father

-Do you understand, marvel, give thanks for the reality that the God who once had to be approached with fear and trepidation, with an entire sacrificial system, completely set apart from where His people lived/operated where only 1 person/year could enter into his presence for fear of death can now be approached as our heavenly Father who is always with us?

-There is a sense of identity with David: O Lord MY God, but it sure doesn’t feel like it has the same sense of warmth as Father.

-Notice as well that the primary way David addresses God in the first half is as Lord, then he shifts in vs. 9 to God. There’s a reason we have all these different names for God throughout the Bible – do you approach God with all those names?

-Look at what David states next: in YOU do I take refuge.

-Think of that classic hymn “Rock of Ages” “Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” Do you know the story behind this hymn? Story/legend says that Augustus Toplady (yes, that’s his real name!) was traveling through a gorge when he got caught in a terrible storm, and took shelter in a cleft in the rocks. Anyone else here hear the thunder at 6 AM yesterday morning? Weren’t you glad you were inside?

-Think of another Psalm that talks about this idea, Psalm 46 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

-Church: do you view God in that way? When life is beating you down, when your friends have become enemies, when your reputation is in ruins, do you look to God as YOUR refuge and strength? This really is the culmination of the previous 4 Psalms: why is David trusting in God? Because God is his refuge and strength.

-This trust, this unshakeable foundation is what allows David to ask God to save him from all his pursuers.

-The position David is in (king) becomes shaky if the nation turns against him, doesn’t trust him. Not just in leadership, but in friendship as well. If your best friend is gossiping about you, do you continue trusting them with information? Doesn’t it feel like a lion is tearing your soul apart? 

-Plumer “A universal weapon against the friends of truth is the tongue.” (108)

-Mark Twain: “A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth is able to get on its’ pants.”

-The truth tends to be downplayed for a lie, and we Christians need to be opposed to lies in every context we find ourselves in! We represent the one who is the THE truth!

Barna: 1/3 of people who claim to be Christians are not coming back to church. It’s REALLY hard to be committed to THE truth when you’re not committed/engaged in the one place that is committed to that truth.

-Now, there’s an element here that we need to address, as David goes on in vs. to say, these accusations should lead us to self-reflection. Anyone here completely perfect in every interaction you have yet? Then we’re all in this together!

-David pleads his case before God. Notice all the IFs

-David is so assured of his innocence, that he barters with God. IF he has been unfaithful, IF he has sinned, then let his enemies win.

-Not necessarily something we should do. If we’re caught in sin, we should be quick to repent and seek reconciliation. 

-This is pointing us to the cross, where Jesus had done no wrong, had not repaid anyone with evil, had not plundered anyone, and his soul was overtaken, his life was trampled to the ground, and his glory was laid in the dust.

-We live on this side of that reality! There’s 2 ways to approach this coming judgment, and CS Lewis talked about it well in his Reflections on the Psalms

ancient Jews and Christians today view themselves in a court of law, Christians view themselves as a criminal being judged, Jews viewed themselves as the plaintiff expecting a huge payout. Where do you place yourself in that judgment? The criminal, or the plaintiff?

-Selah

  • Justice for My Enemies (6-11)

-David then transitions from asking for justice for himself, to asking for justice for his enemies. 

-Look at the language he uses to call on God: arise, life, awake.

-God doesn’t ever slumber of sleep, never gets tired, is constantly holding all things together, why is it that David uses these words?

-He’s pleading with God to deal with the injustice that’s taking place around him! Begging God to bring about perfect justice in this situation.
-Last phrase here “you have appointed a judgment” is within the semantic range of the Hebrew word, I prefer the NIV “decree justice.” Similar to vs. 3 “If there is INJUSTICE in my hands”

-Justice is a major theme throughout the Bible – treating others as created in the image of God. Was reminded this week of a Bible project video related to this idea that I think would be worth watching, take a look!

-That idea of God executing justice continues throughout the rest of this section, and the connection between justice and righteousness is demonstrated as well. Let’s look at 

-vs. 7 – after calling God to bring about justice, he asks to call the witnesses. That word translated “assembly” is translated as “synagogue” in the Greek OT. 

-David is asking God to bring it to the highest court God has given: his people.

-God’s people (as we saw in the video) are meant to bring about a new justice system, and the hardest part about that is we’re supposed to live that true justice out as a demonstration to everyone around us. That’s what David goes on to say in vs. 8

-Ultimately the true lasting judge is God. Notice the personal pronouns David uses.

-First the acknowledgement that God judges the PEOPLES, then asking to judge ME

-Now if we were to ask God to judge us based on our own individual righteousness, not one of us would remain standing. 

-That’s where we all need to throw ourselves on God’s mercy and believe that He has counted us as righteous through the sacrifice of His Son. That’s where we see the righteousness of God given to every believer today, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. See all of us who have been born again will never face the judgment/justice we deserve.

-(vs. 9) Throughout history, God’s people have pleaded with him to finally bring in the new kingdom.

-Think of the disciples in Acts 1:6 “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

-Tendency to think of/treat us as those who are “inside” and those who are “outside” acting as if the offending party is someone “out there” That’s what David is saying here! Let those filthy evil people out there be sacrificed for our sake, then those of use who are “in” who are righteous can finally have the peace we deserve. That idea is pervasive in the church! 

-Think of the story of the Pharisee vs. the tax collector. “Thank God I’m not like those other men.” Vs. “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” One of these men received justice. Which one was it?

-Or think of Paul in 1 Cor. 6. “Such were some of you.”

-It’s not the others who are the problem, it’s all of us who are the problem! See we too used to live in the kingdom of darkness, but we have been washed and sanctified, but we still have a tendency to give in to our sin. That’s why we need to be reminded that God has given us a job to do: to tell the world that Jesus is king, and we actually have to live like we believe that truth! 

-There is an “in” and an “out” but ultimately that’s up to God to decide, and up to us to do everything we can to get as many people “in” as we can! That’s where David ends this verse: God tests the minds and hearts, righteousness is found only in Him

-Then David reminds himself (and us) that God is the only one who can/will protect us

-God is our shield, God saves/rescues/restores, and because of that, He is a righteous judge. He can/will be indignant when people don’t respond to His gracious call to repentance. So how does God respond to a lack of repentance?

  • God’s Righteous Judgment (12-17)
    • The Unrepentant (12-16)

-God responds by destroying those who will not be obedient to Him.

-Remember we saw how we view these “imprecatory Psalms” back in Psalm 5, God is a kind, loving, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love to those who fear Him, but He cannot and will not tolerate an evil rebellious spirit, so there will be discipline and destruction doled out.

-Compare vs. 10 “who saves the upright in heart” with these verses.

-Whetting a sword is sharpening it, getting it ready for battle. Bent and readied his bow, the target is in His sights, all he has to do is twitch and the arrow will fly away. Not only are the arrows ready to go: he’s dipped them in tar and fire! He’s locked and loaded and ready to deliver punishment! Why is this the case?

-Because of how the wicked man lives his life. 

-Look at this progression: conceives, pregnant, gives birth

-He’s continually giving in to sin, lying dormant with it, can’t hide it. Same idea James picks up in James 1:14-15 “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

-Sin, like being pregnant, can’t be hidden, will take the life from you, will wear you out/down and will lead to death

-Do you realize how ridiculous this is? People are offered freedom, life, flourishing, and they trade it for evil, mischief and lies. And to double down on how ridiculous this is, look at the next 2 verses:

-A guy digs a hole and falls into it. Then he throws a boomerang that comes back around and hits him on the head.

-Anyone ever watch Looney Tunes? There’s a character named Wil E Coyote whose entire life goal is to destroy the Road Runner, but each time he tries to destroy him, it comes back around to destroy himself. He’s a literal gif! Have you ever seen these? You realize just how ridiculous this is, right? 

-CS Lewis has a beautiful illustration of this in The Weight of Glory. “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

-We keep distracting ourselves, we keep fooling ourselves, we keep tricking ourselves by playing with our tiny little mud pies when we’re offered an all inclusive beach vacation! We’re flying to Florida tomorrow to visit Cara’s family: while we’re there we’re taking our kids to Disney World. Anyone who’s been there knows it’s a magical place – my kids can’t even fathom what they’re going to experience! They’d be content to swim in the kiddy pool we have in our back yard because they can’t even fathom what they’re being offered this week. 

-That’s us when we continue playing in our sin. We’re offered a trip to Disney, and we’d rather play in the 2” of water that our dogs just got out of.

-God gives freedom, joy, a brand new life where people can finally flourish and people too often are content to play in their sin.

-Yet for those who are now righteous in Christ, we can give thanksgiving:

  • Thanksgiving (17)

-Because God has made us righteous, he has extended that righteousness to the world by believing in His one and only Son. Then, when we’re in Christ, we can sing praise to His name.

-Psalmists see through a mirror dimly, we see a little more clearly

-Because of God’s righteousness, we can now come before Him through faith in His Son, by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. That’s where we can take refuge in Him, we can find justice in Him, and we can give thanks to Him. So which path are you going to take? The path the world offers, which leads to death, or the path paved by Christ, which leads to eternal life.

-One of the ways the saints of old have walked the faithful path is by celebrating and remembering the Lord’s death in communion, so we take up the same path today: remembering and celebrating the reality of the resurrection. This is a family meal reminding one another which family we’re a part of, which kingdom we’re building, and to whom we’re looking for our refuge. If you’re walking in obedience to Jesus Christ having put your trust in Him, you’re welcome to celebrate with us. Use this last song we’re going to sing as a song of preparation for the celebration of communion together.

Psalm 6 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Be Gracious To Me

Psalm 6 (pg. 255)

-NIVAC: Student keeping a prayer journal reading through these Psalms: “What is it with these psalmists anyway? They’re such a bunch of whiners!”

-Could you imagine singing these songs day in and day out? Definitely in the minor key!

-Another theme popping up in these Psalms, while we begin in sorrow/mourning, we don’t stay there long when we look up to God

-As we’ll see through this Psalm, there may be extended seasons of mourning, one’s entire life may be marked by mourning, but we can know and trust that God is still working

-2 notes for us today as we work our way through this Psalm:

-Window – look at it, or look through it? The Bible serves as a window, gives a framework for viewing all of life. Not bad to look at the window AT TIMES 

-A couple BAD examples: counting up the number of verse to figure out when Jesus will return. Magic 8 ball pick and choose random verses.

-A couple good examples: soaking, marinating, meditating on the Bible both big and small sections at a time. Using the Bible as a template for prayers.

-Seasons of life – your life will have seasons of wobble. Need to know which season you’re in and be strategic about what you’re devoting yourself too. What do you do when nothing seems to work?

-Dark night of the soul – nothing wrong with emotions, but being completely dependent on emotions is a problem. Many church services today tend to be centered on an emotional experience. Even seen some people have weekly “how was your worship EXPERIENCE this week?” Need an anchor for our soul (Heb. 6:14), that will keep us planted, focused, in place in the midst of life’s trials/difficulties 

READ
PRAY

  1. My Mourning (1-7)

-Vs. 0 – choirmaster, played with string instruments, Sheminith (lit. “the 8th) leading to people thinking it should be song an octave lower, or a different tuning of the instrument, sung in the minor key.

  1. Greatly Troubled (1-3)

-As we read, you can see this is another moment of desperation for David

-Almost as if David lived by the mantra: life’s hard, and then you die

-But life doesn’t have to be ONLY hard, there can be lasting joy in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in

-Many scholars think this situation is referring directly to some sin David was caught in (if so, similar to Psalm 51 where David’s murder and adultery come to light) leading to a sickness 

-Based on the use of “rebuke me not” and “discipline” not a stretch to believe it’s in response to David’s sin

-“Heal me” in vs. 2 would point to sickness, in ANE sin and sickness were connected

-These 2 words have some interesting connotations:

-Rebuke – referring to legal argumentation, therefore tied closely to the concept of righteousness, or being in right standing. David is asking God to allow him to remain in right relationship and standing with God and others

-Discipline – refers to education and training. If you’ve got a dog you discipline them to get them potty trained, or if you’ve had kids you know you need to teach and train/discipline them to get them to figure out what’s wrong. Now there’s times/moments where you probably get angry with the lack of obedience/response – that’s the situation David is in now. He’s begging God to not respond to Him in anger or wrath

-We need to have a good understanding of God’s discipline in our lives. It is educational/equipping for a life of holiness. It seems that there’s a tendency to view God as wrathful/vengeful. Some have even accused God of being an egotistical maniac. God’s overarching desire is for everyone to be in right relationship with Him and others, and He will discipline to draw people to Himself. It’s not out of spite, it’s out of love. This is where we need to remember God is a good, kind, loving, caring Father, I’m guessing everyone here who had a dad (anyone not have one) was disciplined in some capacity.

-After dealing with the justice & righteousness of God, David shifts to other attributes of God: his gracious and healing nature.

-Be gracious – means “show favor” Despite being sick and caught in sin, David has the fortitude to STILL ask for God’s favor. Do you? The reality is: even when we’re sick, even when we’re in sin, God’s favor is still showered upon those of us who are in Christ. 

-David needs this favor because he is week, feeble, languishing on his own, desperate for some breakthrough

-Then he asks for his real need: healing.

-He says he needs healing for his bones are in trouble, he is too weak. Other places in the OT this phrase is translated “terrified out of one’s senses.”

-These bones are referring to the innermost physical self, but things could get even worse.

-His soul also is greatly troubled. NIV – “my soul is in deep anguish.”

-David’s entire world feels like it’s falling apart, but instead of running away from God, it’s spurring him to run TOWARD God

-Remember: read all these Psalms as a window through which we view the world around us, so when we feel desperate, like our world is utterly falling apart, we can still boldly come before God.

-Last thing we see in this section is a final cry of anguish: HOW LONG?

-Begins addressing God again, but can’t contain his exasperation 

-One thing we’ve seen throughout these Psalms is that God invites us to beg Him, plead with Him, repeat the same requests to Him, and while that’s true, I don’t think the same is true of us! It seems that many of us get tired of continually asking God for help, pleading and begging the same things over and over and over until the only prayer we have left is: how long?

-Part of the reason God allows times like this is to strip away our self-reliant tendencies. 

-When things are going well in our lives, we have a tendency to not give a second thought to God. We know God created us, saved us, but that was in the past, it’s up to me to get through today.

-Cannot fully appreciate/comprehend normal life until going through difficulty. One of the most striking examples of this in my lifetime was the difference between September 10 & 11 of 2001. From “normal” to “where was God?”

-Last thing from this section is from James Montgomery Boice:

-“Have you noticed how often in this psalm, even in the midst of his great anguish, David calls upon God? Five times in the first four verses. That is, once or more than once in each verse! And the name he uses for God is Jehovah, which characterizes God particularly as our Redeemer or Deliverer.”

-Movie Silence

  • Deliver Me (4-5)

-David shifts in this section to bartering with God (not the best idea, but when you’re desperate I supposed anything will do!)

-Longing for deliverance, for salvation. From desperation He realizes the only way He can be saved is through the grace of God

-And that remains true today as well! Even though we have a better understanding of germ theory, medicines, the way the body works, it is no less miraculous when God allows our bodies to be healed than it was 3,000 years ago.

-Notice how David approaches this plea: 

-Asking for deliverance because of the character of God: his steadfast love. That theme KEEPS popping up in the verses! Hebrew word chesed (חֶסֶד): covenant, lasting loving faithfulness that God extends to His people

-Then David gets to his bartering in vs. 5

-Once someone dies, David reminds God that they can no longer praise Him. And it’s true! Those who didn’t praise/worship God on this side of eternity will also not be praising God on that side of eternity. Brothers and sisters, what we’re doing right here and right now is meant to be a dress rehearsal for the final play: living in the new heavens and the new earth in perfect relationship with God and each other. But if there’s no one left on earth to praise Him, how will anyone else see or be made aware of these greater spiritual realities? 

-This is pointing us to the fact that God always has and always will have his chosen people who are specifically sent to represent Him to the rest of the world. I don’t know if David thought of this passage, but it reminded me of Moses’ encounter with God where the 10 commandments were delivered (The 1st time)

-Moses pleading with God in Ex. 32:7-14.

-Make a great nation out of you: don’t you think that would sound tempting? 

-Just as David does in this Psalm, Moses barters with God by pleading with Him regarding his character. Asks God what the world would think if Israel was spared from Egypt just to be destroyed in the desert.

-Same argument David is making here – appeals to God’s ultimate glory. If everyone is dead, no one will be left to praise Him. 

-Isn’t done because God is egotistical, isn’t done for spite, it’s done because God alone is worthy of our praise, He alone is the one to whom we should be orienting our entire lives towards, He alone is the one who can ultimately heal us. (soli deo gloria)

-The last section here David brings the focus back on himself because he is exhausted.

  • Exhaustion (6-7)

-This feeling is far beyond what a simple nap would cover. The Hebrew expression is David is swimming in his tears in his bed. His tears have cried tears, and those tears have their own set of tears. The guy is crying 24/7: where he sits during the day is drenched in tears, and where his bed has become a pool.

-I think at times we tend to treat these Psalms like the melancholy, depressed friend no one ever invites over. David is the Eeyore of his friend group here! And because these Psalms don’t hide behind facades, or safe language, we can at times wrestle with reading them. 

-Feel like you should tell him to “Man up! Dudes don’t cry!” But David doesn’t care, he’s letting it all out here!

-This is a good description of the “dark night of the soul.” The point at which you need to look back and remember how God has provided in the past because sometimes your history is all you’ve got. 

-Luther: “pray and let God worry” easier said than done!

-Another theme we’ve seen throughout these Psalms is that we need to be completely transparent before God. We can’t hide from Him, we can’t trick Him, so just let it all out!

-In vs. 7 David uses a weird (to us) phrase: singular: my eye wastes away.

-Way of referring to his physical health. Someone’s eyesight is still strong, they’re still full of life. As someone’s eyes for bad their health will go with it.

-Don’t know who his foes are, could just be from his physical sickness.

-The last thing to note about David’s exhaustion is that it demonstrates David’s trust in God:

-Luther: “no one who has not been profoundly terrified and forsaken and prays profoundly.”

-To say it another way, it takes trail and tribulation to learn to pray profound prayers, and we know this is true, because of the last characteristic about God:

  • The Lord Hears (8-10)

-Feels like David is bipolar, stark contrast between vs. 7-8.

-Whatever affliction David is walking through, in spite of swimming in his own tears, he knows God has heard and will respond.

-Still has the courage to demand anyone who does evil to leave him alone

-The reason David has this courage is rooted in God’s nature. Remember what David reminded himself of back in vs. 4: God’s steadfast love. His loving kindness extended to us! 

-Because of that loving kindness, God will answer & hear our plea, God will accept our prayers, because of the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit made possible by the atoning work of the Son to the glory of the Father.

-Remember, we saw last week that the Spirit will intercede for us even when we don’t have the words to say.

-Finally, we see that while David was initially ashamed and greatly trouble, his enemies will ultimately be the ones afflicted. 

-Since David is on God’s side, his enemies are God’s enemies, so lasting justice for all of them is what David’s asking for.

-Another way of saying this is: David is pleading for shalom, for true and lasting justice and peace.

-The “hello” of the Jewish people (even today) is the Hebrew word “shalom” which means everything is in its’ proper place and order. Just that first part is enough to want me to wish for it: everything is in its’ proper place. Anyone else ever lose their keys? 

-The difficult part is that won’t actually happen until Jesus returns, so until that day there will be times, seasons where we’re swimming in our own tears. So what do we do until Jesus comes back?

-We remember the man of sorrows who was languishing, the man whose bones and soul was greatly troubled. Who asked the Lord to deliver his life and was told no. Who sweat drops of blood when He looked at the suffering He was going to be experiencing. This Psalm is a description of what Jesus experienced in our place. We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus weeps with us. We can view our suffering and struggles through the window of Jesus, who uses our suffering to refine us and make us more like Him, for His own glory. That’s where we can have hope that Jesus hasn’t given up on us yet, and here’s the best part: He never will! Church, make sure you’re looking at your suffering through the right window!

Psalm 5 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Listen To My Prayer

Psalm 5 (pg. 255)

-Chronicles of Narnia: “Is he safe? Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

-Some people who use Exclusive Psalmnody argue for accapela only singing in church, what do you do with this prescript? Or last week “with stringed instruments”

  1. Plea to God (1-6)

-Sounds very similar to the beginning of Psalm 4

-For some reason, we have these repeated examples of the need to remind God to listen to us, to pay attention to us, to answer us when we come before Him

-We know that God already knows all these things, but we can still plead with Him 

-Remember from last week, we need to approach God honestly in our prayers. Since God already knows everything about us, we can’t keep things hidden from Him.

Preach the Word “People who don’t know God well think they have to pray with special words. Their prayers sound like a formula with set words and phrases.”

-Think of how other religions form their prayers. You’re trained in what you say, how you say it, sometimes you have to face a VERY specific direction and if you miss by a degree it’s heresy. God invites us to come with all that we are, with all that we’ve got, and to be bold in our approach to Him.

-These first verses could be considered the prelude to prayer

  1. Preparation to Pray (1-3)

-I onetime read that someone said “The most difficult thing in the world to do is to pray. The second most difficult thing in the world to do is to stop praying.”

George Muller “after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray.” He kept a prayer journal, contained 50,000 answered prayers, 30,000 were answered within the first day, some within an hour. Ran an orphanage where he cared for more than 10,000 children during his life

-If someone like Muller, who had a prayer book of 50K answered prayers can struggle to actually pray, so can David, and so can you

-St Anthony of Egypt “If you know that you’re praying, you’re really not.”

-Look at how David begins: give ear, consider, give attention.

-Again, remember that God already sees, knows, is aware of everything that is going on. God doesn’t need the reminder because God doesn’t change. He can only be true to Himself. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here! We’ll pick up that idea in vs. 4

-Asks God to listen to his words, his groanings, and his cries

-Once again, it sounds like David’s in a rough spot! 

-Ever have one of those nerve tests on your knee? Part of what we’re seeing here is: what is your knee-jerk reaction when situations arise in your life? When you’re struggling, what do you do? When you’re thrilled over some exciting news, what do you do? When you’ve had a totally normal/average day, what do you do? I’ve got a proposal: you pray! THAT is how you “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:16)

-Because this is in the midst of struggling, what does it look like when you don’t even have any words to say? Have you ever found yourself in a moment like that? It’s guaranteed that at SOME point in your life, you will suffer. It may be vicariously through someone else’s struggle, it may affect you, but you will suffer. Where do you/have you turned in those times of your life?

-I think of some of my friends who have walked through the valley of the shadow of death – one friend whose first wife faced cancer head on within a year of getting married and lost. Do you think that’s what they were planning on when they celebrated their marriage? Or another friend whose wife carried their first daughter to full term, only to have her die in the womb at 9 months and one day. How did they process delivering a baby whose cry they would never hear? 

-It’s one thing to deal with the philosophical “problem of evil” in the theoretical, it’s an entirely different game when the problem of evil decides to plant its’ roots within your life. What do you do when your prayers are nothing more than groans? Do you know that’s enough for God?

-Charles Spurgeon – battled crippling depression much of his life “Words are not the essence but the garments of prayer.”

-This theme is picked up again in Rom. 8 where we finally see any answer to the “problem of evil.” 

-Vs. 18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

-Vs. 22 “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

-Vs. 23 “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

-Vs. 26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

-God Himself, through the indwelling Holy Spirit prays on our behalf. When you don’t have the words, when your world is falling apart, when you don’t know which end is up, you’re not alone.

-There’s a second piece to this from this first section: in the morning I watch

-Some have argued (even Spurgeon) that an hour in prayer in the morning is better than 2 hours in prayer at night. Really??? 

-Better way to think about this is calling out to God first thing when you wake up! That’s a wonderful habit to have and get into. It reminds us of our complete dependence on Him, our need for Him to lead us and guide us, and (as Jesus commanded us) the reminder to daily take up our cross and follow Him.

Watch: do you expect an answer to your prayers? Or do you act as if they hit the ceiling? The word “watch” has a connotation of eagerly anticipating. I had a couple people tell me last week the quote “When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening” really impacted them last week, and this is a similar idea. When you finish your prayer, do you start watching, or do just go back to how you were before, and act as if nothing has changed? 

-One author “If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God will answer your prayer because he cannot deny himself.”

-This is where we can then get into the prayer itself. Because the answering is dependent on the character of God, it leads David to pray:

  • The Prayer (4-6)

-This feels like a weird place to go when you’re crying out or groaning to God. After you’ve just asked God to listen to what you have to say, shouldn’t you get to what you want to say instead of reminding Him what He likes? 

-Last week I used an analogy of a coach bringing a team together and saying “listen up!” To expand that this week, imagine the next thing he says is: “You guys really like in-n-out, and you hate Whataburger because it tastes like more expensive McDonalds” 

-The reason God answers prayer is because of who He is, and specifically, the needs David has in front of him run contrary to God’s very nature of being holy.

-How do we read something like “you hate all evildoers.” How does that square with John 3:16?

-This is where theology matters greatly. “God hates sin but loves the sinner,” that’s not what this says here! 

-We have a skewed version of love today. Driving around you’ll see bumper stickers or yard signs “Love is love.” That makes absolutely no sense! What I was ALWAYS told was you can’t use the word in the definition. So how do we square the fact that God is love with the fact that God hates all evildoers? A few thoughts for us:

-First, we cannot divide God into his various attributes/characteristics. His attributes literally describe who He is. God is love, God is holy, God is wrathful toward evil. So we look at a situation and say God was acting in wrath there. God is always acting with all his attributes at the same time, not picking and choosing based on the situation.

-Second, we know that God does not want anyone to perish, but earnestly desires that everyone repent and turn to Him. (2 Peter 3:9) what’s crazy about that is God has chosen us as his emissaries to call people to turn to Him in repentance. That’s where I said last week YOU are the outreach strategy of this church.

-Third, no one wants a God who only fits within our current culture’s definition of love (being complete acceptance). What do you do with someone like Hitler? How do you handle the “cancel culture”? Every culture, country, person has an idea of who the “evildoers” are (article on adultery vs. tattoos)

-Fourth, God ultimately dealt with sin, death, and evildoers when He sent His one and only son to the cross. The cross is where the penalty for evildoers is paid in full, which leads to:
-Fifth, and finally, the reality of what the Bible says is the evildoer is me.

  • Plea for Myself (7-12)

-Because you and me, every single person who has ever lived is a sinner by nature and by choice (with the exception of 1 perfect person) we are all dependent on God’s mercy and grace. So notice how David talks about himself:

  1. I Will Worship (7-8)

-David excludes himself from the company of evildoers, BUT it’s only because God is abundant in “steadfast love.”

-This idea of “steadfast love” first appears in Ex. 34 when Moses asks God to reveal Himself, and listen to how God describes himself in vs. 6-7

-Notice the inequality between God’s steadfast love, and the iniquity. Spurgeon “God’s judgments are all numbered, but his mercies are innumerable.” Inherent to God’s very being is this abounding in steadfast love.

-Because that is who God is, we can then come before him, we can enter his house, we can worship Him, it is through obedience to Him that we can remain faithful, even as we are tempted, tried, and discouraged by enemies on every side

-David asks God to lead him in righteousness, because his enemies will not, he needs God to lead him and make the right path to take straight. 

-David’s enemies are those who refuse to worship God

  • My Enemies Will Not (9-10)

-The enemies will do everything they can to lead others away from God. Notice all the ways they work:

-Their mouth reveals that their inmost self is destruction

-They use their mouth, throat, leading to their innermost self of destruction

-A good way to think about this is like a black hole, consuming everything around it. Nothing and no one is safe from their grasp! This is why David is pleading with God to lead him on straight paths, he doesn’t want to get sucked into the ways of the evildoers.

-Paul picks up this idea and quotes this Psalm in Rom. 3 to make that point that no one is righteous. 

-That’s the natural way of all of us! We need to be born a second time to become truly righteous.

-Vs. 10 is a little difficult for us to swallow. Can we call down curses on our enemies? How do we reconcile a verse like this with Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”?

-We’re going to come across what are known as “imprecatory Psalms” which is calling down curses/condemnation on your enemies. This isn’t even as graphic as some of the Psalms in the future!

-In this in between time of Christ’s first and second comings, we don’t live in a theocracy. Things would be FAR better if we all lived under Christ’s perfect rule, but we don’t. We’re not trying to take over lands by force, or threaten to kill people who don’t convert. These Psalms need to be read in light of the era of human history we find ourselves in.

-Now, we realize that God will bring about His perfect judgment at some point in the future. That’s part of what we’re asking when we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

-So we can read these realizing that it’s a just punishment for any/everyone who has sinned against the holy, righteous and perfect creator God, which is all of us. That makes it all the more important for us to tell any/everyone about who Jesus is. The one who came to take the penalty/judgment in our place.

-NIVAC: “the psalmist’s words call us to remember that Jesus was never afraid to call evil what it was or to take a firm stance of condemnation against all its forms. We too must take evil seriously, aligning ourselves with God’s essential character of holiness.”

-That’s where the word “rebelled” is so potent! Any sinful act is an act of rebellion against God. These people are merely following their own advice, which leads them to death. They will follow their own throats to their open grave.

-But not those who realize/acknowledge their need of a Savior!

  • The Righteous Ones (11-12)

-“But” is one of the most significant words in the English language. David used in back in vs. 7. I got in a car accident, but I’m completely fine. The doctor found cancer, but it’s easily removeable. 

-Paul writes about this in Eph. 2. We were once dead, BUT GOD. Comparing is a beautiful thing when one way leads to death and the other to life.

-Our refuge is found only in Jesus. Last week He was described as a shield, this week He is a refuge.

-Scene in the Hobbit when the company is traveling the mountains, middle of a huge rainstorm, mountain giants start fighting, they find refuge.

-If/when you’re struggling, remember that God is your refuge. This is what allows David to rejoice even when your discouraged or persecuted. This is where Paul can remind us in 1 Thess. 5 not just pray without ceasing, but also to rejoice always. BECAUSE

-God blesses the righteous, because of his steadfast love. This gives us the hope we need.

-NIVAC: “Perhaps the most important lesson contemporary humans can take from this psalm is that human hope is grounded in the essential character of God—a character that is constant and does not change regardless of the ebb and flow of human circumstances. The righteous—those who take refuge in God—find hope in God’s holiness both because he is incompatible with evil and because he is relentlessly good”

-He’s not safe, but he’s good!

Psalm 4 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Trust in God

Psalm 4

-Book of Psalms cover the gamut of human experiences/emotions 

-Has a prescript, just like the previous one, but doesn’t list a specific time

-Some believe Psalm 3 & 4 are connected to the same experience (with Absalom)

-David says distress, mocked, time of wanting

-Nothing in the text specifically ties it to that

-Others have called Psalm 3 the morning Psalm (vs. 5 “I woke again) then Psalm 4 becomes the evening Psalm (vs. 8 “I will lie down and sleep). Even became an evening prayer in the synagogue.

-Others have tried connecting it to a different time in Israel’s history, a time of famine like 2 Sam 21 “Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord.”

-Somewhat getting into the weeds, but based off some of the word choices in vs. 2 that lead scholars to believe the Israelites were pursuing Baal and other fertile/agrarian gods as their support instead of trusting in Yahweh.

-Where last week’s theme was physical persecution, the emphasis/focus this week is on verbal/emotional persecution.

-Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

READ
PRAY

-3 primary groups/people addressed in this Psalm: God, enemies, myself.

-The need to preach to ourselves instead of listening to ourselves

-This will then lead us to more boldly and freely preach to others

  1. To God (1)

-David comes out swinging! “Answer me” 

-How many of you are that bold in your prayers?

-The reality is God already knows what’s in our hearts, he knows our thoughts before they enter our minds, before we speak he knows what we’re going to say, we can’t run away from him, we can’t hide from him, there’s nowhere we can go where he isn’t already there (yes, double negative, learned in music theory, you learn all the rules so you can break them)

-This reality is (to me) one of the craziest things about praying – God already knows it, so why do we try to hide when we talk with him?

-Spurgeon: “It is the most powerful form of prayer just to set our case before God, just to lay bare all our sorrow and all our needs and then say ‘Lord, there it is.’”

-We can always expect an answer from God, here’s the crazy thing: God doesn’t ever get tired of answering our prayers. Article this week: “I may get tired of being needy, but God doesn’t get tired of providing for his children.

I may get tired of always asking, but God doesn’t get tired of answering his children.

Just like he loves making another few trillion daffodils every spring, and providing food for billions of birds every winter, he continues to love answering the prayers of all his needy children, over and over and over again. My need for him never ends—and he’s okay with that. In fact, he tells me to come, every day, for my daily needs like my daily bread and his forgiveness and strength to forgive others and to see his kingdom established in the world in righteousness and peace and justice—and every burden of every kind, big or small; as Peter says, “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.””

-Do you ever feel like God gets tired of hearing from you? Think of the examples Jesus gives of prayer: persistent widow, persistent friend after the Lord’s prayer

-God invites us, encourages us, and models for us remaining persistent in prayer 

Podcast today: “When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening.”

-How does David refer to God in this situation?

-When things aren’t going well, when people are opposed to him, he reminds himself where his help, support and strength come from: “O God of my righteousness.” CSB “O God who vindicates me.”

-Think of Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

-Righteousness a big theme in Romans, righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Rom. 3:22) that is, the only way we can call God the God of my righteousness if by putting your faith in Jesus Christ and believing in Him. It is this belief that leads to a reminder:

-Because David has put his hope, trust, confidence in God, he can then look back on previous problems without worry. 

-Notice the tense: You HAVE given

-Anytime David starts to worry about what God’s doing he reminds himself how God has worked in the past

-ESV SB “Past experience emboldens the faithful to confident prayer.”

-It’s almost as if David can’t get too far complaining before he realizes what he’s doing and pulls himself back.

-So because of the previous ways God has worked in his life, it emboldens David to ask:

-Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

-The word “hear” is used as a way to emphasize, draw attention to. Someone telling you “listen up!” 

– William Carey: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”

-Do you boldly come before God, asking him to listen up and answer you? Because we can! We’re invited, encouraged, exhorted to!

-After first bringing his plea to God, David then turns to his enemies:

  • To My Enemies (2-5)

-Spurgeon: “Observe, that David speaks first to God and then to men. Surely we should all speak the more boldly to men if we had more constant converse with God. He who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men.”

-Word translated “O men” isn’t the normal phrase, refers to men of renown/good standing in the community

-Isn’t some random dude complaining, this is like someone from Congress or the Senate bad mouthing you. How would you respond? David responds by asking some questions:

-How long will my honor be turned to shame?

-This refers to the way these men are speaking ill of David

-How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?

-David calls out their own sins, instead of slandering David they’re revealing what’s in their hearts.

-Where I think many of us would be prone to give in, worry, complain, stress, David begins with God, then goes directly to his accusers

-Some translators translate the lies to “false gods” which is another way of saying lies! Satan is referred to as the father of lies, and when people put other things in God’s place they are lying. This is why I’m so passionate about rightly ordered and directed worship. If we worship anything other than God we are making committing idolatry, which is lying against God. 

-How often is that the temptation for all of us when things aren’t going the way we want them/expect them to? Instead of coming to God when people are complaining about us we run away from God, blame Him, look to other comforts

-Then it’s as if David realizes what he’s saying and who he’s talking to, but before we get to that, one word: selah

-Vs. 3

-After reminding them that they’re a bunch of dirty scoundrels, David compares himself to them and is reminded he’s not them! He doesn’t need to stoop to their level, play their game, or give into the same things they’re pursuing

-God has set apart, another way of thinking of this is sanctified/made holy. God has always had a group that is “set apart” from the rest of the world, first referred to the way Israel is “set apart” from Egypt. Today those who are “set apart” is called “the church, Christ’s body, Christ’s bride” that’s us – the people David is talking to would know about the history of Israel being “set apart” from Egypt

-One translator translates godly here as committed, another translates it as “faithful.” Those who are “set apart” are whomever is being faithful to obey God.

-Because David is one of those who is “set apart” God hears when he calls – implied is that God doesn’t hear when the other guys call out to him. Also points to the reality to the access those “set apart” ones have before God – kid walking up to me at Calvin’s swim lesson, not my kid, wet knee, unhappy me!

-Vs. 4 is difficult to translate well, partly because of the way Eph. 4:26 picks up this verse. 

-Hebrew -> LXX -> Latin -> English

Eph. 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

-Better translation of the Hebrew is “tremble” which better fits the context (Greek went with “be angry”) David had just called out his enemies for idolatry, this would then pick up that theme, need to tremble before God. How many times do people reverse these ideas: sin, and do not tremble

-David is giving us a 4-fold response when we’re being ridiculed. First, tremble. That is, ensure your worship is right. Getting to Heb. 12:28 approach God with reverence and awe, acceptable worship.

-Second is a good life rule: do not sin. Instead of lashing out at other people who may hurt you with words, or using it as an opportunity to complain to God, don’t give in, don’t sin. Instead:

-Third, ponder in your own hearts. Take time to assess where you’re at, how you have been wrong, how someone else can be used to sanctify/refine you, use your pillow as your sounding board/counselor

-Fourth: be silent. Stop talking! People fear silence today. Selah.

-4 things isn’t enough to do, David adds 2 more in vs. 5

-Instead of seeking after lies/false gods, they are to “offer right sacrifices.” Similar to trembling above, begin by getting worship right. One can guess that after the exhortation of vs. 4 the hearers were like the people who heard the 12 apostles in Jerusalem at the day of Pentecost: “What must I do to be saved?” 

-Most of the time we get into difficult situations we are prone to turn our gaze off God and onto something else. When you’re discouraged, what do you turn to? Favorite food, TV show, working out, working. What we need to do is turn to God, worship Him first, come before Him first, and then we can respond rightly to whichever situations we’re in, which is what David says next:

-When we focus on God, it reminds us that we can put our trust in Him! Pointing back to vs. 1, when has God failed you in the past? That gives us confidence for the future! 

-Think of what Jesus said about worry. Which of you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?

-David then changes the focus one more time in this Psalm – first to God, then his enemies, lastly to himself.

  • To Myself (6-8)

-This theme of “many” we saw last week. Comparing himself to those around him

-They want prosperity (remember that, theme in vs. too)

-Isn’t that human nature? Always wanting more. Dream of achieving something, then the goal moves. That’s basically our celebrity culture! Never satisfied.

-Then we demand God bend to our wills/whims and ask him to look upon our sinful request with blessing

-This “light of your face upon us” is picking up the idea of the Aaronic blessing in Num. 6:24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance [face] upon you and give you peace.” These “many” people are twisting and distorting God’s Words against Him! (just as the tempter did the Jesus in the wilderness)

-But David remembers, and reminds himself the truth of Psalm 84:10 “a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” A second with God is better than living in incredible wealth and prosperity. 

-David is comparing those who demand God give material blessing to the reality that all those blessings are just meant to point us to the reality that this world is not our home. But how fickle are humans, how easily contented to sit in the mediocrity of the world when God is offering us himself.

-God’s gift of himself leads to more joy/happiness/contentedness than when “grain and wine abound.” But aren’t grain and wine abounding how our world views success? We, as Christians, aren’t supposed to be content with just the grain and the wine, in fact the grain and wine are supposed to point us forward to a time when true, lasting prosperity will last forever. So as Christians, we’re to use/steward these good gifts of God

-This is one of the primary ways we differ from the world: we need to view the good gifts of God as good gifts, not worshipping them, not idolizing them, not pursuing them for themselves, but realizing they’re gifts from a good God who loves us and allows us to do everything to his glory

-Someone recently asked me what the outreach strategy is for the church: you. Jesus started with 12 people that he poured himself into, loved, served.

-What’s extraordinary about the gospel is it uses our ordinary lives as a testimony and witness of God’s unbelievable grace

-When we are faithfully following God (whether or not the grain or wine abound) God will use us, that will allow us to have peace – both vertically and horizontally

JI Packer: “Congregations in every age must see themselves as learning communities in which gospel truth has to be taught, defended, and vindicated against corruptions of it and alternatives to it. Being alert to all aspects of the difference between true and false teaching, and of behavior that expresses the truth as distinct from obscuring it, is vital to the church’s health.”

-Sundays are to remind us who/whose we are, to be equipped to go into the rest of our lives remembering that we live for God alone – compared to this Psalm: we gather weekly to be reminded that God answers us, then we can boldly proclaim the Word to the watching world. We are the a worshipping church both when we gather and scatter.

-Even when David is mocked and people speak poorly against him, David can still lie down and sleep, because God has made him to dwell in safety.

-That’s the case with all of us! We can lie down and sleep contentedly because we’re never safer than when we’re walking with God. This will allow us to have peace even when sticks and stones are thrown at us, and words do hurt us. Instead of saying ‘Yeah, right.” We can trust ourselves to the perfect judge who has faithfully walked with us every step of the way.

Psalm 3 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

The King

Psalm 3

-Picking up in a series Pastor Bruce started the beginning of June

-The Psalms have served an interesting purpose in the life of the church, but how do we/should we use them today?

-gamut of human emotions (emotions aren’t bad, being ruled by emotions is)

-model of prayers/request to God

-songs (with musical accompaniment notes) (leading to some people holding to “exclusive Psalmnody”) Psalm literally means “accompanying song/melody”

-compiled together with a purpose (5 books)

-3 things to be looking for as we dig into these for a number of weeks together:

-Any editorial notes we should be aware of (Psalm 3:0)

-How these situations can and do apply to us today, but before we jump to that we need to do the historical work of understanding how it applied to the nation of Israel at this time. (1st rule of biblical interpretation: text cannot mean today what it didn’t mean back then. We can apply it differently, or see it more fully fleshed out, but ALWAYS begin with the author’s and hearer’s original intent) 

-Psalm vs PsalmS 

READ
PRAY

-Book 1 of the Psalms begins with a prelude (1-2)

-The king is a BIG deal in Israel, as the king goes, so goes the nation

-Quick overview of the first 2 Psalms, as I realize we studied those over a month ago!

-Most scholars think Psalm 1 & 2 were initially combined into 1 Psalm, lots of similar themes and ideas in both of these Psalms:

-Blessing vs wickedness. How are we blessed? By obeying God’s law.

Deut. 17:18 ““And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them,”

Psalm 1 walks, stands, sits. 

Psalm 2 is what it looks like for when people pursue wickedness. 

-“Against the Lord” can’t stand against the Lord 

-“Anointed” need to read the Psalms through the lens of Christ

-Nothing can stand against/thwart God’s plans

-vs. 9 points back to 1:6

-David serves as one of the primary examples of the king all other kings should aspire to be, a model that is eventually fulfilled in Jesus

-First 2 Psalms communicate the point that we need to be obedient to God’s law, the rest of the Psalms communicate what that looks like in the midst of a wide assortment of life experiences 

-First Psalm with a pre-verse, subscript, title with historical context. Vs. 0

“A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.” 

-These are a part of the text (may be scribal comments later on, may be original, since we don’t have the first copy we can’t be 100% sure where they originated, but we can trust them to help us understand/communicate something from God)

-Because these are a part of the text, it helps us to look back at the story being mentioned to have a more complete history of what led to the events of these Psalms being written.

-Absalom’s rebellion is found in 2 Sam 15-17

-If you’ve never read the story of David, it’s a fascinating look at the life of someone who is “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Sam 13:14

-David is Israel’s second king (most people know the story of his upbringing being the giant slayer)

-What’s crazy, is despite being an example, leading to the time period in which Israel will always look back on fondly, he wasn’t someone we would hold up as an example of holiness:

-multiple wives, census, stole Uriah’s wife, can infer from stories like what happened with Absalom that he wasn’t a great dad

-Absalom’s story is full of intrigue/espionage/betrayal. I keep waiting for someone like Zak Snyder to read the story of David and turn it into a big budget film

-Starts back when Absalom’s sister is taken advantage of by another one of their brothers, harbors a grudge and 2 years later kills the brother, flees to another country for safety, eventually David pardons him and allows him back into Jerusalem, Absalom starts to point out his father David’s deficiencies and builds up a following 15:6 “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” Followers continue increasing to the point where he’s a threat to David’s rule. David flees Jerusalem, is mocked along the way by one of Saul’s descendants “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” After fleeing, losing Jerusalem to Absalom, David fortifies his troops and fights against Absalom, Absalom’s luscious locks trap him in a tree and he is killed by one of David’s warriors, thus ends the rein of Absalom. 

-Imagine the betrayal David is feeling as he flees from one of his sons. The nation that he loved and led had turned against him. His army was divided, his city was on the verge of destruction, and he takes time to pen these words.

  1. The Foes (1-2)

-If you’re anything like me, negative comments or experiences tend to weigh more heavily on my mind than positive

A study found a 5:1 ratio

-How do you process negative comments aimed your way? 

-In this case, David still had a large group of people following him, on his side, according to 2 Sam 18:7, the battle is so large 20K men die. So David clearly still has a following! Yet what is David fixated on? “how MANY are my foes” “Many are rising” “Many are saying” How many is it?

-IDK about you, but as I said, negative comments weigh me down. I talk fast, when I first started preaching I talked faster! I’d seriously have 10 people tell me what they appreciated about my preaching, then have 1 negative comment about it being too fast, and I would beat myself up about it for the next week. Maybe you have had similar things happen to you! Presentation at work going well, 6 people tell you it was great, 1 person complains. Project you worked forever on, 3 people tell you it was great 1 complains. Cook a meal, 2 of your 3 kids complain.

-Elijah had a similar complaint in 1 Kings 19. Right after the confrontation on Mt Carmel, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” God “I have 7,000 others”

-Despite David being surrounded by supporters, he is fixated on the few who are opposed to him. 

-I don’t think many people here have been betrayed by a child (maybe you have!), but I think part of living in a fallen world means we all at some point will experience betrayal. Could be from a child, like David here, could be a spouse, a coworker, a sibling, even a parent, but you will experience some kind of rift in some relationship at some point.

-How often do we then run to God and blame him for not automatically fixing the problem? How often do we think God is the problem, instead of looking to Him as the solution? 

-There’s a level of honesty and transparency that is helpful in these verses, demonstrates how we should come before God, but there’s also the need to preach to yourself, which David does in the next section.

“But it is the most powerful form of prayer just to set our case before God, just to lay bare all our sorrow and all our needs and then say ‘Lord, there it is.’”

-C. H. Spurgeon

-But before we get there: selah. Babylon Bee: “Ancient Documents Confirm ‘Selah’ Best Translated ‘Extended Guitar Solo’

-Most scholars believe it was some sort of musical note, or musical interlude, but they’re meant to be places where you pause and reflect on what was just said

-Take 60 sec to think and ponder about people being against you

-David spends the first 2 verses bemoaning the state he finds himself in, but then quickly shifts his gaze from himself up to God.

  • The Reminder (3-6)

-How often are you your own worst enemy? One of my favorite authors says it this way “No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you as much as you talk to yourself.”

-We are commanded to take every thought captive to Christ, but how often do your thoughts control you instead of you controlling them? How often do the worries/fears of this world consume you instead of looking to the only person who faced every worry/fear and took the penalty in our place.

-Instead of listening to yourself you need to preach the gospel to yourself. Every day.

-In the midst of whatever challenges thrown your way, the Lord is a shield

-Something weird about the shield: AROUND me

-Psalms use poetic elements to make points, in this case a full shield surrounding David, but not just surrounding him, his glory and lifter of his head

-Source of everything, David is nothing without God

2 Samuel 15:30 “But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered.” God lifts David’s head in the midst of his struggling/mourning 

-David shifts tense in vs. 4

-Recounting some time in the past where God answered David’s prayer

-Part of the reason we need to recount and remember how God works in our past, because past evidences point to future realities 

-Look where God answers from: his holy hill. Pointing to a Messianic reality from 2:6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

-So where at first David was despondent, he then takes time to remind himself of some truths about God, and then we have another “extended guitar solo.” 

-Take 60 sec to think/pray about how you may need to preach to yourself

-Continuing on in this theme of moving on from despondency, despite of his fear, his uncertainty about his future and lineage, David is still able to rest, and sleep, which even that is a gift from God.

-Do you ever think about the fact that you and I are able to rest/sleep because God doesn’t? God sustains us through each day, each night, and everything in between

-Do you ever find yourself unable to sleep when you’re discouraged or feeling beat down? DA Carson: “Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night’s sleep—not pray all night, but sleep. I’m certainly not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I’m merely insisting that in the normal course of things, spiritual discipline obligates you get the sleep your body need.”

-Look at the shift from the beginning of the Psalm to vs. 6. He goes from all these foes to “I won’t be afraid”

-Sometimes sleep is all you need!

-Even when David is completely surrounded (look back vs 3), he doesn’t have anything to be afraid of

-Even when it seems to you like all hope is lost, we have nothing to be afraid of! This confidence leads us to ask God:

  • The Plea (7-8)

-David wraps up this Psalm by bringing in some previous theme into his request of God:

-Arise O lord (look at vs. 1)

-Save me (look at vs. 2)

-David is no longer afraid, because he knows God will come to his aide!

-God will deal with David’s enemies – striking on the cheek is publicly disgracing (just like David was publicly disgraced in the account of Absalom)

-Break the teeth, 2 options: first is a hard punch, second is think of an animal who has prey in its mouth (alligator ate a dog in FL), if the alligator is holding the animal in its teeth and the teeth are broken, the prey is saved!

-Finally, everything concludes with this last reminder: salvation is up to God. Even when “many are saying” to David that he there is no salvation for him, they have no control over it, it’s up to God. That’s how we can find blessing even in the midst of persecution and suffering.

-What does this mean for us? Look at this Psalm Christ-o-centrically.

Acts 4:12 “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

-Salvation belongs to the Lord, but that salvation was won because Jesus is the greater David

2 Samuel 15:30 “But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered.

-Who else do you know who went up to the Mount of Olives weeping? (Luke 22)

-This is part of the reason we celebrate communion, it reminds us who is our shield around us. It reminds us that salvation is found in no one else. It reminds us that God sustains us. We ask God to continue saving us (and remember how he always has!) Through the cup and the wine we can say “salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!” And what’s the last word? Selah 

The Apostles’ Teaching Sermon Manuscript

NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, please listen to the message on our YouTube channel to hear the whole sermon.
The Apostles’ Teaching

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

-Why do we spend so much of our weekly gathering listening to me talk? And what am I trying to do as I read, study, and pray each week for this?

-One time heard someone say imagine every week is finals week!

-But this is what God has called, equipped and gifted me to pursue, just like every one of you should have things that God has called, equipped, and gifted you to do.

-The very first NT sermon is in Acts 2, an exposition of Joel 2

-Early apostles in Acts 6 appoint the first deacons so they could be devoted to “prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Serving as a job description of pastors/elders moving forward

-What we try to do here every week is exposit the text in front of us. Walking through a passage of Scripture word by word and explaining what it means, how that relates to us today, and how we should live in response to that word.

-J.I. Packer defined preaching this way: “Christian preaching is the event of God himself bringing to an audience a Bible-based, Christ-related, life-impacting message of instruction and direction through the words of a spokesperson.” 

-John Stott similarly said “To preach is to open up the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and God’s people obey Him.”

-What’s amazing is week after week of hearing God’s Word spoken and exposited (add details as to an account or idea; clarify the meaning of and discourse in a learned way) is we become changed people. We better learn how to ready and apply God’s Word to our lives! It is a common means of grace.

-The Bible is dripping through our whole service: the songs we sing, the verses read, the prayers prayed need to be so saturated in God’s Word that if they were a towel what you would wring out is the Bible

READ
PRAY

  1. The Gospel Is Central (1-7)

-We took a look at the gospel message in quite a bit of detail my first Sunday here, but if you haven’t figured out it’s a pretty big theme in the Bible, so let’s take a look at all the gospel entails.

-Transliteration of the Greek word euoneglion literally means good news.

-Also where we get the modern word “evangelical” so evangelicals are gospel people, people who believe in the Good News (not how newspapers define)

-Most helpful way I’ve found (and the way I talk) is using 4 words: God, man, Christ, response. 

God the righteous creator, man the sinner, Jesus Christ the Savior, Response – faith and repentance

-The Gospel in the NT

-proclamation (Matt. 4:23 – “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.)

-kingdom (Matt. 24:14 – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.)

-Centers on Jesus (Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.)

-Demands response (Acts 15:7 “And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.)

-Powerful (Rom. 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.)

-Primary use of gospel in the NT is Paul, which is why we’ll be looking at a passage he wrote. 

  1. Past, Present, Future (1-2)

-One of my favorite quotes about the gospel from Tim Keller: “We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A-Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make progress in the kingdom.”

-Think of a wheel. The hub is connected to every other piece of that wheel. The gospel is meant to be the center point of our lives, from which we lead into every other area of our lives.

-Struggling in your marriage? Look to the gospel. Struggling at work? Look to the gospel. Struggling as a parent? Look to the gospel. I realize this sounds simplistic, so bear with me as we work this out here.

-This is exactly what Paul is saying in these first 2 vss. 

-First thing we see is how the gospel contradicts the primary cultural ideas.

-“I would remind you” is gnosis in the Greek. “I would bring to mind” Gnosticism was an early heresy that you needed “secret wisdom/knowledge” to be in the “inside”

-While the Corinthians claimed this secret knowledge, Paul reminds them what’s really true. 

-Our world today has competing cultural ideas. Evangelism in a Skeptical World pgs. 40-41

-Second thing is the need for this gospel to be received.

-Past tense. Sometime in the past you had to believe this. There is a moment in time where the Spirit awakens you, brings you from death into life.

-Third, this gospel IN WHICH you stand

-Present tense. It’s not enough to look back fondly on your conversion and get on with your life as if it doesn’t matter.

-Fourth, the gospel is the means by which you are BEING saved.

-In the future. Gospel is means of salvation, AND sanctification. (define)

-Lastly, is the conditional “if”

-You must hold fast. Seems to be a theme last week and this week! 

-We cling to the gospel message itself. That Jesus died for our sins, that he was buried, and that he rose again.

-Unless you were believing in the wrong thing!

-This gospel message affects past, our present, and out future. 

-Martin Luther “It (the gospel) is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consists. Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.”

-As we focus on the gospel we continually behold, set our gaze on, and become more like the risen Christ.

-Paul focuses on this idea in 2 Cor. 3:18 “We all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

-This past, present, and future aspect of the gospel means our image is supposed to day by day look more and more like Jesus.

-It’s like the beast from Beauty & The Beast. He was hideous to look at, refused to even look at his image in the mirror, God slowly softens our beast features to look more like Him.

-The gospel is therefore the primary thing we need to be fixated upon, individually and corporately.

  • First Importance (3-7)

“Although everything in the Bible is important, not everything is equally important. Some doctrines are more important than others. The gospel is most important.” (ESV Expositors Commentary)

-Theological triage (major on the majors, minor on the minors)

Originally coined by Dr. Al Mohler, picked up more recently by Gavin Ortlund Finding the Right Hills to Die On

-Hospital analogy

-Way of prioritizing the most important theological issues. 

-This is really important for us to understand, because generally where the disagreements comes with people is over the third order issues. Some examples:

First – Jesus being fully God and fully man, virgin birth, empty tomb

Second – baptism, complementarianism, spiritual gifts

Third – age of the earth, views about the end times, Calvinism/Arminianism 

         Evangelical Convictions “Though all Evangelical Christians are unity in the conviction that God is the Creator of all things, they have been divided over how God created – how long it took and what process he may have used.” (33)

-Some things aren’t even on this list that I’ve been told are reasons people left a church – style of music, what clothes should the pastor wear, translation of the Bible, politics 

-People will have different issues that they’ll put in different spheres of importance.

-For myself, I’ve come to some strong conclusions about baptism, but the EFCA has it as a third level issue. You may have issues that you’d put as a level 2 that I wouldn’t put there, that’s ok!

-Fundamentalism makes everything an essential, “progressive” or liberal leaning Christians put everything as optional.

-When you come into an area of disagreement with someone, it’s vital to (just like Paul did here) differentiate between that which is PRIMARY and that which is not.

-“In essentials unity; in non-essentials charity; in all things, Jesus Christ.” Rupertus Meldenius (17th Cent)

-As we have discussions/disagreements about theology, humility is crucial. “If maintaining the unity of the body of Christ is not costing you anything – if it doesn’t hurt – then you probably are not adjusting enough…The unity of the church was so valuable to Jesus that he died for it. If we care about sound theology, let us care about unity as well.” (Ortlund, Hills, 150)

-Gospel believers – the fact that there are “first importance” doctrines must lead us to humility. I don’t feel the need to defend every tiny piece of by theological beliefs, that which is true will stand the test of time! As a professor at seminary often said, we should attack ideas (ideas have consequences, bad ideas have victims) not people.

-“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” -Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Russian)

-The gospel then serves as the hub of the wheel, the primary way of viewing everything we see around us. 

-C.S. Lewis “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

-This section is thought to be an early church creed, with some of Paul’s comments thrown in.

-Attesting to the historical reliability of the risen Christ. Most scholars think this creed was written within months of Jesus’ resurrection. Even when Paul is writing this letter, most of the people who saw Jesus after his resurrection are still living.

-Brothers and sisters – we have a similar testimony. Jesus has appeared to us in some way through the testimony or witness of someone who loved us enough to tell us about Jesus, and then to live out the truth of what they were telling you.

-If we believe in the Apostles’ Teaching (the gospel) then we need to be intentional about sharing that truth with others, about living in such a way that others will see glimpses of Jesus in you.

-Glimpses. Not perfectly, we’re poor reflections of him, at least on this side of heaven. One author said we need to hold our mirrors at 45% – angled up to heaven!

-Last year Barna released a statistic that said 47% of Christian Millennials think evangelism is wrong. Statistics can be misleading, since Barna also says that 95-97% of all Christians believe that part of their faith means being a witness about Jesus, and the way questions are worded is always tricky because people project their own definitions.

-But what is implied by this list of people who had seen Jesus was Paul exhorting the church at Corinth to go talk to them if they didn’t believe! The single most important thing is getting Jesus right. 

-“If Christ is risen – then nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen – then nothing else matters.” (Jaroslav Pelikan – Yale professor) 

– I was reminded this week about an author named Randy Alcorn who knows the that nothing but Christ matters.

-1990 was peacefully protesting outside an abortion clinic, was arrested, placed in prison, then sued by the abortion clinic for 8.2 million dollars. He resigned from the church he was working at, was already giving away the royalties from his book, and spent 20 years making minimum wage. In that time, he gave away over $8.2 million from his royalties to various charities, ministries and organizations that are continuing to have gospel impact throughout the world. Don’t underestimate what God can do through you being faithful! 

-We need to keep Christ as the most important thing in all our lives! 

  • The Gospel Is Personal (8-11)

-After exhorting the church to keep the focus on the gospel, Paul then talks about how the gospel transformed him personally.

  1. The Last Apostle (8-9)

-One of those fun theological debates people have – does the office of “apostle” continue today?

-Because of this text, I say no. Vs. 8 says this is the “last of all” and apostles are those who were eyewitnesses to the risen Christ. Gifted to begin the early church, write down God’s truth, and usher in the new era of history.

-Crazy that the “least” of the apostles wrote half the NT. God has a tendency to use “the least of these”

-Paul acknowledges his past, his persecution against Jesus’ bride, yet still realizes God has uniquely called and gifted him to carry out the gospel message.

-That’s where all of us are. If you do the math, none of us are good enough to measure up to God’s holy, perfect, righteous standard. Remember the plumbline illustration from Amos? 

-The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Because the tomb is empty there is no least or greatest, we’re all one, we’re all together in Christ. What other religion offers a way for everyone to be in the same place??

  • God’s Grace (10-11)

-Even though Paul was the least of the apostles, he realized that God’s grace changed everything. 

-But is one of the most important words in the Bible!

-I’ll be honest, this used to be one of my favorite verses, the Popeye verse! I yam what I yam and dats what I yam! 

-God’s grace is enough to change even the most ardent persecutor of the church to the most ardent discipler in the church.

-God’s grace is never wasted, as God’s grace was extended to Paul he was then able to work harder than any other apostle to share the gospel message with the world. 

-Just as you might be tempted to think he’s pounding his chest, Paul quickly jumps back to remind that it wasn’t him working, it was God’s grace working itself out in him.

-This is true of us too! God’s grace affects us too. God’s grace saves us and then begins to transform us. So just as Paul was placed at a specific time and place (even though he considers himself “untimely born”) you and me are here for this time and place for a reason. 

-The last sentence tells us the reason. We preach, you believe. 

1 Cor. 3:4-7 “For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

-By keeping the Apostles’ Teaching (the gospel) the first importance, it will allow us to see God getting the growth.

-Doesn’t mean we let go and let God, “I planted, Apollos watered.” We still have a job to do! That is being the church! We need to be committed, we need to be here to support and encourage each other, we need to be praying for each other, we need to love each other, and we need to do all those things because the gospel is of first importance. The gospel transforms us day by day into the image of God.

-They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers.