Category Archives: Psalms

Romans 7.1-6

Title: Praise for Redemption

Text: Romans 7.1-6

Introduction: a few weeks ago Larry asked me in our Bible Study time on Wednesday night if he understood me correctly when I said that we no longer have to obey the law – which, by the way, I did say. In the same week, Andy Stanley was highly criticized for his comments about Christians today and their need to ‘unhitch’ themselves from the OT.

Ouch. That scared me a little. I would in no way suggest that. So, I listened to Andy’s message and I think I understand what he’s trying to say. He’s trying to say what Paul said: We’ve been set free from the Law. It can’t save us! We don’t have to obey it’s demands any longer because Christ has set us free from it’s bondage.

The writer of Hebrews brings this out in chapter 8: Heb 8.7, 13:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

And there are more evidence of this:

Eph 2.13-22: 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Col 2.13-14; 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

He crucified it. I think this is the direction Paul has been headed all along in Romans. Let me show you what I mean. In 1.16-18 he gave us his thesis statement for the book: 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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

How can he say v. 18 so confidently? How can he say anyone is unrighteous? Because of the Law. The Law shows us we’re sinners.

So, Paul says he loves the Gospel. This wonderful story begins with the wrath of God against sin. Sin is his first topic. You see that in chapters 1, 2 and 3. But, Salvation is revealed within this Good News. And, it comes by faith in Christ.

Look with me at chapter three as he arrives at this stage of the Salvation story: 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

Paul says that the law shows us that we’re sinners, but it can’t make us righteous. He continues: 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Note he says that it is apart from the Law and only through faith in Jesus Christ.

We continue our way through Romans and come to chapter 4. Rd 4.13-16a; 13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. What he is saying is that if the law could make one righteous, then all you’d have to do is obey it. But you can’t. All the law does is… continue in v 15. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. So, all the law really does is show us that we are sinners and that God is Holy.

16 That is why it depends on faith…

Then Paul makes his way through to Chapter 5 and declares in v 20-21, that through Christ, God has increased His Grace all the more where sin abounded. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now, to address this issue, Paul presents to the reader a fictitious “Judiaser”. This pretend man debates Paul and asks a very serious question for the Jew in 6.1: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul says absolutely not, and then he expounds through chapter six and chapter seven.

We pick up in Chapter 7 this morning. I want you to see that Chapter six and seven, though different, are very similar. Paul constructed it in such a way as to draw attention to the sanctification process.

 

Note how Chapter six is about the Christian and his relationship to sin, and, Chapter seven is about the Christian and his relationship to the law. Let me demonstrate this for you. You’re in Romans 7; now look back to chap. 6.

 

 

6.1: sets the topic as Sin

6.2: We died to sin

6.4: we might walk in newness of life

6.7: he who has died is freed from sin

Compare w/:

7.1: Sets the topic as Law

7.4: You have died to the law

7.6: we might serve in newness of the spirit

7.6: we have died to that which held us captive; we are released

 

So, here’s what we’re seeing: Paul is dealing with the Law in the same manner he dealt with Sin in the previous chapter. He uses the very same words. He uses the same flow. He uses the same thought pattern and the same sort of logic. He’s declaring that we’ve been set free from them both, sin and the law.

 

In the 7th chapter of Romans we see a type of Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde presentation about the Law.

I say that because (and I want you to remember), The Law of God is precious to the Jews. It’s precious to Paul. Ps 1.2: Blessed is the man… his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.

Ill.: Lisa, Jenn and I watched Fiddler on the Roof Friday night. Tavia said that he wished he could be a rich man.

If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.

In the OT you find time and again, the love for God’s Word that his people had.

Psalm 19.7ff: it is perfect, reviving the soul; rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, clean, righteous, sweeter than honey and drippings from the honeycomb. Think about that for a moment. The Jews felt the Law of God was sweeter than honey and drippings from the honeycomb.

Psalm 119 is replete with statements of the beauty and wonder of God’s Law and just how precious, how dear the Law is to the Psalmist and to the Jews. 4x’s in Psalm 119 the Psalmist says: Oh, how I love your law!

But, the Law was also cruel. The Law not only magnified the sin, the debt, the trespass, but it also increased the trespass. For all of it’s good, it brought shame. No one could ever live it out. Paul will press this point later on in 7 – that the Law is precious and cruel at the same time.

Read 7.1 with me. Well, what happens when a person is no longer living? They’re dead. In 6, he said we must die to sin. Just as Christ died, so we too die. That’s the picture of baptism. Back up in 6.Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

He is saying the same thing to us in 7.1: you are bound by this law, that is, until you die to the law.

My first goal today is to point out this principle.

Transition: If you’re taking notes, that would be point #1, for it is Paul’s first point. The Principle.

I.     The Principle (1)

exp.: And the Principle is this: You must die to the law, just as you die to sin. You have to fight this instinctive drive to set up standards as a way to earn your salvation.

t.s.: But just as he does in chapter 6, Paul then gives us an illustration to make his point in the next 2 verses.

II.    The Illustration (2-3)

exp.: In Chapter 6, he used an illustration and it was “Slaves and Masters”. In chapter 7, he’ll do the same, but this time it is “the husband and the wife.” Rd v 2-3;

Excurses: This passage isn’t about divorce. I know some folks like to use this passage to say people who get divorced and remarried are committing adultery. First, I want to caution you against establishing a doctrine on one verse. 2nd, I don’t think that is what this passage is teaching. Paul is teaching us about the Law and our need to die to the law. Let’s understand what he says within the context of the whole passage.

ill.: Remember the principle: you are bound to the Law until you die to the Law. Read v 2a: For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives… any problem so far? A woman makes a vow to her husband and she is bound to him while he is living. Pretty simple. Rd 2b; 2nd, if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So, if a woman is married to a man and he dies, she is no longer bound to the oath she made to him because he has died. Still pretty straight forward, correct. Let’s continue. Rd 2c; so, if she marries another man in this new situation she finds herself with her husband gone, she is NOT considered an adulteress. Verse 3: Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. So, without adding anything to Paul’s illustration, let’s look at the facts of his story. If a woman is married to a man, and she leaves him and lives with another man while he is still alive, then she is called an adulteress. That’s pretty straightforward. There is nothing in here about divorce. Paul doesn’t even mention divorce. Paul simply says, if this woman is married to this man and she goes and lives with another man, then she is an adulteress. She’s committing adultery. I’m pretty sure we would all agree with that. But, on the other hand, if her husband dies and then she marries another man, she is free to do so, because, she is no longer bound by the original contract. The bond between them has been severed because he died, freeing her up to marry another.

t.s.: For the application we must look at verse 4-6…

III.   The Application (4-6)

exp.: rd v 4; likewise. So, just as a woman is free from her marriage vows when her husband dies, likewise the believer… rd 4; we have been set free from that and are able to be bound to another – Christ. That isn’t the Body of Christ – the church, but rather the Body of Christ, physically speaking. rd v 5: For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. We were married to the Law, so we lived that way. But now, our circumstances have changed, as Paul says in Galatians 2: 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. His summary is found in v 6: But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Paul mentions now, really for a 2nd time, the purpose and the reason behind this new marriage to Christ. First he says in v 4, in order that we may bear fruit to God. What kind of fruit is this? Well, in keeping with the teaching in Galatians, it would be the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Doesn’t that sound just like Jesus? We die to the law to bear fruit in our lives in such a way that others see Jesus in us. In Galatians 4.19, Paul says he is in anguish of childbirth to see Christ formed in them.

He says down in v 6 that we’ve died to the law and are united to Christ so that we serve (slave) in the newness (same word as in Chapter 6 for walk in newness of life) we serve in the newness of the Spirit. Without even knowing it, we served the devil. Now we serve God in the newness of the Spirit.

ill.: I have an old pastor friend who used to say that when he became a believer his “want to” changed. He didn’t want to do the things he used to do and he now, wanted to do what Christ desired of him. He wanted to serve in a pleasing manner. He wanted to be faithful. He wanted to walk in newness of life.

Conclusion: I think that kind of sums up how a believer moves from one realm into another. No longer bound by a set of rules to be obeyed externally, God writes his law upon our hearts. Now, what manifests itself in the life of a believer is what comes from within. Our ‘want to’ changes.

A young lady was so moved at her salvation she wrote a song about it. The Title of this song (a hymn you would call it): Praise for Redemption. You don’t know it by that title. You almost didn’t know it all, because when it was written, no one really liked it and it faded into obscurity for some 80 years.

In 1954, Billy Graham was hosting a crusade in London. It is truly amazing the anguish he endured there in London. He wanted to preach, but many of the religious leaders were so hard on him. Robert Morgan writes: The British Press was critical of the young evangelist and an Anglican bishop predicted Graham would return to America with ‘his tail between his legs.’ Funds were short, forcing the Graham team to take pay cuts. A member of Parliament threatened a challenge in the House of Commons, accusing Graham of interfering in British politics under the guise of religion. Friends in high places were advising Graham to cancel or postpone the meetings. Graham, shaken, dropped to his knees repeatedly, beseeching help from Heaven.

As a part of these struggles and financial cutbacks, Cliff Barrows began compiling hymns for the Great London Crusade Song Book. Barrows received many hymns from different folks. One such person was Reverend Frank Colquhoun, a well-known British preacher and lover of hymns. There was this unknown hymn by this lady named Fanny Crosby, who had published that hymn some 79 years before. That hymn was Praise for Redemption, and it goes like this:

To God be the glory, great things He has done; 
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Refrain:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

Jesus had redeemed Ms. Crosby and she wanted to shout praises of Glory to God for the great salvation she had experienced. So she composed that song. Of course, the song was sung for 3 months there in London in 1954 and exploded onto the Christian Scene.

Fanny Crosby wrote many songs about her faith. If this one had never been found, we’d still know about her faith. But aren’t you glad it was found.

Praise for Redemption. Fanny Crosby had found a new life in Christ. She had been taken from life to death. Do you hear her plea in the chorus: O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son.

If you’ve never accepted Christ, I offer him to you today. If you’ve been living by the law – trying to be good and never haven been changed by the Spirit. Would you come today?

Here’s how we do things at Calvary. I want to invite you to come talk to me (or any one of the elders) this morning about anything on your mind. There will be other church members there, too, of whom I’m sure would love to visit with you. We’ll have some coffee and cookies back there, and maybe some doughnuts.

Maybe you want to talk about church membership or feeling a call to missions or ministry. Come visit with us.

Let’s have a moment of silence and reflect upon the day’s activity.

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Filed under Colossians, Ephesians, Faith, Galatians, Psalms, Romans, Salvation, Sanctification, Sermon, The Gospel, The Law

Psalm 19

Title: Do you ever wonder if God is really out there? Does God really exist?

Text: Psalm 19

Introduction: Do you ever wonder if God is really out there? Have you ever asked yourself: Does God really exist? This is a tough question and if you’re honest – whether you’re a Christian or not, you have. How could you not? You’re bombarded everyday with those who would love to discourage you. And with all of the bad things in the world, how could God – if he is even out there – how could he let all that stuff go on?

I told you about my friend who went to the doctor and he asked her how her treatments were going. Do you remember? She said Treatments? I’m not getting any treatments? Treatments for what?

He said, “for your cancer.”

“I don’t have cancer.”

But she did. She hadn’t seen the doctor in 14 months. That’s when they found her cancer in her stomach. But no one told her. No one followed up.

We buried her yesterday. I asked her if she was bitter and she said: Good heavens, no! I asked her if she thought about suing. She asked me why? She wouldn’t be around to enjoy it. And besides, we’re all human and we all make mistakes. God knew.

Think about that. How unfair is that? And to say that God knew and didn’t reveal it to her!

Can God really be out there with so much injustice and so much evil in the world?

And if he is out there – why does he remain silent? Why doesn’t he speak up? Or does he? Where can you hear him if he is speaking?

Transition: Well, Psalm 19 lays out for us very clearly just where we can see him and hear him if we’ll truly look and listen. Look at Psalm 19 w/ me:

19 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1         The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

2         Day to day pours out speech,

and night to night reveals knowledge.

3         There is no speech, nor are there words,

whose voice is not heard.

4         Their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,

5         which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,

and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

6         Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

and its circuit to the end of them,

and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

I.     God is Making Himself Known through His Creation (1-6)

exp.: specifically, the skies; Every day and every night God is speaking to the world saying – I’m here. Can’t you see!

  1. There is no time when God is not speaking.
  2. There is no place where God is not speaking.
  3. There is no one who is hidden from God’s speaking.

The Artistry of Creation is a proclamation that God exists.

ill.: Kim Hill is an artist. I’m guessing 99% of you won’t know who I’m talking about. She paints some of the most realistic, stunningly beautiful paintings you’ll see. She has galleries in Fredericksburg and here, in Tyler, TX. Even if you’re not into art, I feel fairly confident that you would look at her paintings and just be amazed. You’ll look at those paintings and know that someone painted them. That paint didn’t just get spilt and make such an amazing garden painting, or pasture of longhorns. If I was rich, I’d own a few Kim Hill paintings.

app.: But just because you see one of her paintings, it doesn’t mean you can know her through her art or her designs. In order to get to know her, you’d have to read about her. You would have to meet her.

t.s.: Day after day and night after night, as you look up into the stars, you can get a sense he’s there. But, you can’t know him intimately through his creation. You can know he is out there. And that is the 2nd point Psalm 19 makes:

II.    God is Making Himself Known through His Word (7-11)

exp.: he has systematically and meticulously preserved his Word for us today. He wants us to know Him more intimately and deeply. Look at v 7-11;

7         The law of the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is sure,

making wise the simple;

8         the precepts of the Lord are right,

rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is pure,

enlightening the eyes;

9         the fear of the Lord is clean,

enduring forever;

the rules of the Lord are true,

and righteous altogether.

10         More to be desired are they than gold,

even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey

and drippings of the honeycomb.

11         Moreover, by them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

Note first the synonyms God uses to describe his word: law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear and rules. These five words are the same words used in Psalm 119 – The great Psalm on God’s word. And – they’re used in the same order.

Look secondly at how God describes his word: perfect (or blameless), sure, right, pure, clean and true and righteous altogether.

And note 3rdly what they do for the individual: reviving the soul, make wise, joy to the heart, enlightening the eyes, God’s word makes it so we can see clearer. I’d call that perception.

app.: God Communicates His Reality in and through his creation. He Communicates His Character through his Holy Scriptures.

t.s.: But there is a third way we can know God…

III.   God is Making Himself Known through The Servant (12-14)

exp.: rd with me v 12-13;

12         Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13         Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression.

Blameless, this is the word we saw up in v 7 translated as perfect.

  1. The servant writing this Psalm identifies himself in the very beginning, back up in the Title: A Psalm of David. That’s King David. There was no King quite like David. We know he is an imperfect picture of the Messiah, but we get a vague idea of the Messiah by seeing David. David, of course, messed up. He wasn’t perfect. Do you remember his great, public humiliation? That’s right: Bathsheba. He committed adultery with the wife of one of his most trusted and loyal leaders – Uriah. And then he had him murdered in order to cover it up.
  2. But there is another servant mentioned here. David is prophesying about him. There is only one person who has ever really been innocent in all his ways: the man, Jesus. He is only one who actually ever was blameless and perfect. Jesus is God’s servant who came to demonstrate God’s love to you and me. But God demonstrates his love toward in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
  3. There is third servant I’d like to mention. There is David the writer and Jesus the Messiah. The third servant isn’t listed here, but is definitely a sign that God is communicating his reality and his love through this servant. The third servant communicates God’s glory: and that’s his followers.

Every time someone comes to Christ and finds forgiveness, it communicates to people out there who don’t know God, that God is real. Sure, we Christians aren’t perfect like Jesus was – even though for many of us we try, but we fail. But that really is the message! Jesus came to die for sinners like you and me. And every time someone comes to Christ, it is a way God communicates to the world; a message that screams out that God is real.

We see it in the picture of a baptism…

The life of a person who comes to Christ is demonstrated in their baptism: the old person dies and a new person is raised to a new life. But, it is also a picture of Christ, who died on the cross of Calvary for our sins and was raised again to bring life and hope to everyone who commits his life to follow Christ.

ill.: Chase’s baptism…

Conclusion: if you’ve never accepted Christ into your life, I want to give you the opportunity this morning… If you want, we’ll even work out some way for you to be baptized this morning if you’d like. If you’re under 18, we’ll have to have your parents permission of course. But, if you’re out there in the congregation and you’d like to commit your life to follow Christ – this invitation is for you.

Application: God’s is communicating to you

  1. Through the Skies
  2. Through His Scriptures
  3. Through His Servant

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Filed under Prophecy, Psalms, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon, Servant, The Gospel

Service for Scotty Calhoun

Service for Scotty Calhoun

20 April 2018

 

Song: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands played over the speaker system

Prayer & Scripture Reading: Psalm 121

Psalm 121: 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.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Eulogy/Obituary: Mr. Scott Calhoun (Scotty), 58 of Tyler, passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 in Tyler. He was born October, 16, 1959 in Tyler to Sammy Joe Calhoun and Martha Gentry Calhoun.

Scott was a member of Calvary Baptist Church, Tyler, TX (I was told that Scotty and his family were the 1st folks to join Calvary when Calvary relocated to its currently location. That they actually drove downtown to the old facility just for the purpose of joining, knowing they were moving south to Old Jacksonville Hwy. The Obituary reads that Scotty lived at Breckenridge Village of Tyler.

Scott was preceded in death by parents, uncle, Paul Gentry, grandparents, Joe and Gladys Gentry and Park and Jessie Calhoun. He is survived by his loving family including his uncle, Bill Gentry and wife Peggy of Lewisville; aunt, Alice Arnett and husband Don of Emmet, AR; cousins, Sherry DiPatri, Dick Gentry, Teresa Klembara, Lisa Ormsbee, Linda Aull, Kathie Cobb and Cindy Allen; and numerous friends from Breckenridge Village of Tyler.

Prayer by Pastor Fred

Song: Nearer, My God, to Thee

 Message: Psalm 139.13-18

This afternoon we’ve come together to celebrate. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is mourning at the loss of Scotty Calhoun. But there is celebration, too. Why? Why is there celebration?

  1. We celebrate God’s incredible love for us.

Psalm 139 is a Psalm of Praise, which highlights the wonderful works of God. They’re really too incredible to actually wrap our minds around.

        O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

                        You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

                        You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

                        Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

                        You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

                        Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it.

Consider how God knows us. He knows the simple things and the complex things. He understands what we’re thinking before we even form the words to say.

ill.: When I would visit with Martha and Scotty, I have to say, there were times I didn’t understand what Scotty was saying or what he wanted. Not with Martha, she would know and she would ‘translate’ for me or explain to me what was going on. I have to say, her wisdom and experience were invaluable. She knew Scotty so well.

Do you ever wonder about your own life? Does God truly understand? Does he really know? Let me encourage you today and say yes! Even better than a mom knows her child, even deeper than a wife knows her husband, God’s knowledge of you and your life is mind blowing: v6 reads: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Transition: We gather here today to celebrate God’s incredible love us. We also gather to celebrate God’s incredible grace toward us.

  1. We celebrate God’s incredible grace toward us.

Read with me Psalm 139.7-12; Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

        If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

        If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10         even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

11         If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

12         even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

Consider then, according to the Psalmist, that wherever we go or wherever we are, God is with us. You’re never alone. Sam and Martha had an incredible plan. Sam worked while he was alive and Martha carried it over to completion. They were watching out for their boy. I feel positive they knew pretty much everything about his coming and going. And, they made sure that when they were gone, there would be someone watching over him, too. But, as believers, they knew that God was watching over him. There is no place on earth he could go that would ever take him out of God’s care.

As a preacher, my concern would be that you know this amazing principle, too. God’s Holy Spirit, once it enters us upon the invitation of the heart, never leaves us. There is no place you can go where God is not there with you also. I know, that is a double negative, but it just doesn’t sound the same worded differently. If you don’t know Christ, my plea would be that you would.

Transition: We’re here today to celebrate God’s incredible love for us, his incredible grace toward us and thirdly…

  1. We celebrate this wonderful life that God has given us.

13         For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

14         I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

15         My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16         Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

17         How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18         If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

                                       I awake, and I am still with you.

This part of the passage focuses on the word formed.

  • You formed my inward parts
  • Your eyes saw my unformed substance

Even before the sperm and the egg came together to create the first cell known as us, God knew us. God saw us before we came to be. That is mind blowing! He formed our inward parts together. Get that, now, intentionally forming every part of us to make us who we are. And we’re perfect the way God makes us.

There is more here, though, consider this third use of the word formed:

  • That all of my days (and your days) were formed for me (and for you), and written down in God’s book before even my (or your) first day came to be.

There is a scene in the Matrix where Neo goes to visit the oracle. The oracle says to Neo – don’t worry about the vase. He turns to look for the vase and bumps it. It falls and breaks. He apologizes for breaking the vase and she says: I told you not to worry about it. Then, she says: What’s really going to cook your noodle later is: would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything.

Did you know nothing is going to happen to you today that God doesn’t already know about?

Ill.: I had plans to be at the San Antonio Zoo today. My wife and I were invited home for a family get together, that our family has every Easter. This was the closest weekend when the most of us could be there together. Think about this, now: I made plans to be at the San Antonio Zoo. But while I was making those plans, God knew where I’d be and what I’d be doing.

Have you ever heard the quip: if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Are you someone who questions God’s plan for your life? I hope you won’t and I hope you don’t. Because we never know why things happen the way they do.

I’m often time confounded by the world’s smartest people who will spend millions of dollars to send a probe into space to look for life out there on Mars or some other remote part of the Universe. And yet, these same smart people will not choose life when it comes to people who aren’t like them. They miss the fact that we’re all made the way we’re made for God’s glory.

Did you know that in the last 30 years, the life expectancy of someone born with Down syndrome has increased from 25 years to 55 years. Medical advances have created the possibility where babies can be born without heart defects, colon and intestinal problems, cleft lips and cleft palates. Surgery can actually be done in the womb and there are no physical scars when the child is born! And still, with all of these technological and medical advances, the smart people out there are working to stop these children from ever being born. And worse, there is a movement to end their lives prematurely.

States are moving at an alarming rate to approve euthanasia for those whose lives are lived outside of the ‘normal’ boundaries.

Listen, God’s blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Most of the blessings we receive are from those gifts we would have never expected.

I want to take this moment before I close to give a shout out to Breckenridge Village and the wonderful people who work there. You folks are the best. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry to our families! Do you let youth groups and volunteers come help? What a great mission project for your church. What an opportunity to pull out your check book and donate to a Christian Cause that truly blesses others.

Closing:

Once upon a time, there was a farmer in the central region of China. He didn’t have a lot of money and, instead of a tractor, he used an old horse to plow his field.

One afternoon, while working in the field, the horse dropped dead. Everyone in the village said, “Oh, what a horrible thing to happen.” The farmer said simply, “We’ll see.”

He was so at peace and so calm, that everyone in the village got together and, admiring his attitude, gave him a new horse as a gift.

Everyone’s reaction now was, “What a lucky man.” And the farmer said, “We’ll see.”

A couple days later, the new horse jumped a fence and ran away. Everyone in the village shook their heads and said, “What a poor fellow!”

The farmer smiled and said, “We’ll see.”

Eventually, the horse found his way home, and brought with him another horse that had been out in the wilderness. Everyone again said, “What a blessed man.” He lost his horse and now he has two!

The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

The farmer’s son went out to break and train the new horse when he was thrown and broke his leg. Everyone in the village said, “What a shame for the poor boy.”

The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

Two days later, the army came into the village to draft new recruits. When they saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they decided not to recruit him.

Everyone said, “What a fortunate young man.”

The farmer smiled again – and said, “We’ll see.”

Moral of the story: We have no idea what the circumstances we find ourselves in today will be for us tomorrow. There’s no use in overreacting to the events and circumstances of our everyday lives. We must trust that God has “formed our days” and written them down in his book – before even one of those days came to be. We must trust that God is going to glorify himself in and through our lives. And we have evidence of his goodness in the life of Scotty Calhoun. We are better people because we knew him. Both he and his family have profoundly influenced our lives for the good.

Prayer:

Song: How Great Thou Art

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Overcoming Discouragement

Title: Overcoming Discouragement

Text: Psalm 73

Background: We’re in Psalm 73 today. I think most of us understand the book of Psalms to be a hymnal for the Jews. But, it is so much more than that! There is a congruency – a consistency and a melodic line that flows through the entire book. There is purpose and design. My intention this morning isn’t to prove that. Maybe I can do that at sometime in the future. For now, let me bring you up to speed with Psalm 73.

I know some are thinking: what? I thought we were in Romans. Answer: we are. But, I felt the need to preach from Psalm 73 this morning since earlier in the week. It was not originally on my calendar, but felt the Lord’s prompting and so, I’m leaving Romans for today and preaching Psalm 73.

With that being said, turn to Psalm 73.

What you know of the book of Psalms is composed of 5 individual books. Psalm 73 is the 1st Psalm in the 3rd book. Do you see that there in your titles and subtitles? A quick outline of Psalms would look like this:

  • Introduction:1-2
  • Book 1: 3-41
  • Book 2: 42-72
  • Book 3: 73-89
  • Book 4: 90-106
  • Book 5: 107-145
  • Conclusion: Praise 146-150

As we start in Book three, we see that Book two has just ended. The Psalm states that it is “to/for/of Solomon”, but as it ends in v 20, we read: 20 The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended. So, King David probably composed this psalm as a prayer. David is a great earthly picture of a king and God, who is King of kings, has selected this man who will follow him. This is what scholars call a ‘Royal’ Psalm. Israel understood their King to be God’s man for the job of leading Israel and they prayed for him.

God is their King and David is their earthly king. In a sense, they rule together because David has been chosen of God. And, God has chosen not just David, but his heirs, as well. And, the Messiah, who is to come, will be like him. Or, better worded: David is ‘like’ the Messiah who is to come. You and I already know this. David was a type of Christ to show us a picture of the one who would come: Jesus.

And He is our focus.

If we skip down to Psalm 74, we see this call from the Psalmist begging God to defend His own cause: not the cause of the Psalmist, but that of God. The Israelites, The Kings of Israel have not imaged God the way they should have. Their situation has made God look bad. Sure, what has happened to them is a result of their own behavior and rejection of their King and His laws. But, when Israel is conquered or in famine or in ruin, it appears God can’t take care of his people – which, of course, just isn’t true.

So, 72 is the Culmination of the section on King David and 74 is this plea for God to act on His own behalf. The Israelites are making God look bad and the Psalmist is begging God to act. So what is 73 all about?

Introduction: He begins by telling us what He knows: God is Good

He begins with God is Good! (rd v1); you would think that’s all that needs to be said, but there really is a great lesson here in this Psalm.

Oh, how I wish I could just make this statement and you’d all say: Duh, yeah! God is Good – All the time. All the time – God is Good! I wish we all felt it and didn’t have to struggle with it. But, the truth is, although I think you might have a little trouble admitting it, God is good and we don’t always see it that way. Asaph sure didn’t.

That’s what he’s saying in v2-3: “God is good! But, I didn’t always feel this way”; rd v2; He says: I almost stumbled, I almost fell. And then he tells us why: rd v 3: He says: I had been discouraged at what I saw in the prosperity of the wicked. The word saw here, means to watch with envy. It means to covet.

Asaph’s Struggle:

Asaph was really struggling at some time in the past. He sat down and watched so many others, who were wicked people, live what looked like blessed lives. He saw sinful people living prosperous, easy lives. He on the other hand – didn’t have it so easy. That just didn’t seem fair. Surely someone who walks with God faithfully should have it easy, No? And, the wicked – they should struggle! But that wasn’t what he was seeing with his eyes. And so he became envious.

V 4-12 tells us what he ‘sees’. And, as we move verse by verse through to v 12, we see a progression of wickedness and a blindness of those who join with them.

Let’s look at what he saw of the prosperous:

Rd v 4a; As Spurgeon said: “They have a quiet death; gliding into eternity without a struggle.” Rd v4b; You must also consider that a 21 Century health-conscious person isn’t going to get this metaphor. There is plenty to eat and the work is easy.

Rd v 5; man, it sure appears that they got it pretty easy compared to the rest of the world! Rd v 6; Pride is easy to understand, but violence as a garment, well, that’s a little harder. I think this means that their wealth and prosperity have led them to cruel and violent behavior toward others. Rd v 7: These people get whatever they want – whatever their eyes see and their imaginations crave.

Rd v 8-12; Marvin Tate, author of the Word Biblical Commentary on Psalms 51-100, says that this passage seems to indicate that the ordinary people turn to the rich and drink down their language with unthinking desire for their affluent lifestyle. Regardless of how vile they may be, the ways of the rich are very attractive to many people. Even their foolish language (v 11) is treated as wise.

Ill.: This sounds so 21st Century America to me. For some reason, we think the rich are the smart people and that what they say has great value. In many ways, especially in this regard, we’re no different from Asaph.

Now, when we come to v 13, we see a self-assessment that the Psalmist does.

Asaph’s Self-Assessment:

“Truly” begins v1 and here demonstrates that something has changed. In v 1, the force of the “truly” is “in spite of everything to the contrary, God is good to Israel.” In spite of the way things appear in the prosperity of the foolish and the suffering of the faithful, God is Good! In v 13, the force is: “in spite of all the indications of well-being of the wicked, I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence”—which means that the speaker refused to run after the prosperous wicked and adopt their ways. It sounds as if he feels like he’s been good for no reason at all, but I don’t think that is his point. No, he’s saying in spite of all indications that the wicked are being blessed by God, I chose to keep my heart clean and not follow their path.

Rd v 14-16: lit., “it was a wearisome thing in my eyes.” Let me stop right here and now of how Asaph had become so discouraged. You can hear it in words. And, I’m pretty sure you could hear it in his voice, too, had you been around to hear him.

Oh, how Asaph was discouraged: have you ever been discouraged? Maybe you’re there right now.

  • Maybe you got passed up for that promotion. You’ve worked harder and longer and what has happened is just unfair. Maybe that other person even cheated or was dishonest. You played it fair and you’re your integrity, but now they have the promotion. There’s just something not right about that.
  • Maybe you’re checking out that other family. What is it about them? They always seem to be getting a new car or going on vacation. How can he get that much time off? They’re never in church on Sunday morning. You’re not even sure they’re saved. And you’re discouraged because you’re driving the same ole’ beater. You’re thankful you don’t have payments to the bank, but you’re local garage is getting regular payments.
  • Maybe you’re looking around at all the other churches in town and feel like God’s blessing everyone else, but us. Those people are getting a new worship center. Those people are remodeling their Family Life Center. Those people are getting a new Gym. Those people have a children’s ministry or a youth ministry or a (you fill-in the blank) ministry. Those people have this awesome choir and you find yourself discouraged because you’re looking at these other churches and don’t understand why God isn’t blessing you when you’ve stayed the course. You’ve been faithful. Your heart and your hands are clean before God.

Transition: But then, something incredible happens to Asaph as he encounters God.

Asaph’s Sanctuary Experience:

He was discouraged and wearied until… rd v 17; 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Asaph had a God-encounter! He saw what was real and realized what was not real. The sanctuary of God is the very presence of God. Asaph met God and it changed his attitude.

Isn’t it amazing what a proper perspective can bring? Asaph saw what was eternal and was able to bring into perspective what he had been looking at in the prosperity of the people.

When he saw God for who He really is, then:

  1. He saw the people for who they really are. Rd v 17b; rd 18-19;
  2. He saw his predicament, his situation in light of eternity. Rd v 20;
  3. He saw how he had been in his attitude toward God; rd v 21-22

Pray: Oh, God, forgive us when we focus on this temporary situation and put too much value on it in light of eternity. Oh, Father forgive us when miss what you’re doing in our lives and in the lives of others because we are focused on the temporary. Oh, Master, forgive us for when we think you owe us something – like you’re so lucky to have us on your team!

What a fearful, dreadful consideration: to be at odds with God. Would you choose today the materialistic success of the Western Church over and above God’s presence? Asaph says, no! rd v 23-24; He says I’ve experienced your presence and in v 25-26 he says, I don’t want anything in heaven or on earth that puts me at odds with you. I only want you! Rd 25-26

Whom have I in heaven but you. There’s none I desire beside you.

Conclusion: Now, the Psalmist has a great perspective on things. Now he really knows what is important. rd v 27-28

  • Their ending
  • My blessing: the presence of God – and that truly shows how wonderfully good He is!

Application: So, How do I keep from getting discouraged?

  1. Discouragement comes from a focus on the wrong things. When you want something more than you want God, you’re going to become discouraged.
  2. Discouragement comes when you think God owes you something. I’ve kept my hands clean and my heart pure. You owe me. You’re like the older brother in the prodigal son parable. When you assume that you’ve kept your hands clean and your heart pure and because of that, God owes you… you’re going to become discouraged.
  3. Discouragement is bred through gossip, slander and negative grumblings. Discouraged people discourage others. This kind of a person is a rebel and a beast toward God, too (v. 22).
  4. Discouragement is cured with a proper perspective of things:
    1. That God is in charge, in spite of what your circumstances tell you.
    2. That God is really all you want and need. Everything else is superfluous.
    3. That whatever you’re going through – it will pass. Let God teach you in it.

If you’ve been focusing on the wrong things: repent.

If you’ve been thinking God owes you something: repent.

If you’ve been badmouthing the church, a ministry, the pastor, an elder, a member: repent.

You don’t know what God is doing to and through others. So trust that what He is doing is right and best. It is what will bring him glory.

I’d like to visit with you about these things. Maybe you have a question about Christianity or maybe you’re interested in what it means to be a member of Calvary. If you want to talk about Psalms or this message – I’d love to visit with you.

 

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