Psalms – Week 45 Sermon Notes

By December 4, 2016Sermon Notes
  1. Intro:

Fred Reed: Wrote a article on his website entitled Darwin Unhinged: The Bugs in Evolution

*I don’t recommend his site by the way.

*What makes his perspective interesting is that he not a Christian or a creationist for that matter.

*Let me tell some of what he said…

*What makes evolution different from other sciences (or from science) is:

  1. Plausibility is accepted as being equivalent to evidence.

-The less you know the greater number of things that are plausible, because there are fewer facts to get in the way.

-Evolutionists assume that suggesting how something might have happened is equivalent to establishing how it happened.

-Asking them for evidence usually arouses annoyance and at times hostility.

*They are too attached to their ideas to be able to question them.

  1. Evolution seemed more metaphysics (faith) than a science. You demonstrate chemistry but believe evolution.
  1. Evolutionists are obsessed with Christianity and Creationism, with which they believe themselves to be in mortal combat. This is peculiar to them. Other sciences not so much.

-We are dealing with competing religions–overarching explanations of origin and destiny. Thus the fury of their response to skepticism about their belief.

“I found it pointless to tell them that I wasn’t a Creationist. They refused to believe it…like any zealots, they cannot recognize their own zealotry.”

He said that when he questioned the experts on matters of supposed facts he said “I got everything but answers”…mostly he got an ad hominem attack.

“You are stupid, or you wouldn’t even ask that question.”

*I don’t know if he is a humble man or not…I suspect he’s not…but he does advocate for humility in regards to who we are as humans and how much we can really know on our own.

He wrote that…”The smartest in a large number of hamsters is a still a hamster.”

*Reading his perspective reminds me of several truisms…

  1. Everyone lives by faith…in regards to ultimate matters…origin, purpose, destiny…this would seen to call for humility.
  1. We are finite…exceedingly so…humility should be the norm, but often its not.

-We are in fact, hamsters in a very small hamster cage…we should be very careful about making broad statements of fact beyond our ability to know

  1. We tend to emotionally tied to what we believe. This is a fact about our lives but it does not have to be the key factor in our lives.

*Once again humility helps here…we should develop strong beliefs…and retain humility along the way.

*We have spent this year in Psalms.

*A book of disorientation and reorientation.

*Because of the nature of who we are(sinful and foolish) and the nature of the world we live in(bent in opposition to God)…we are prone to get off track…disorientated.

*Because of the nature of who God is (loving and full of grace) and the nature of his word…we have the opportunity to continually get back on track…be reoriented.

*Today we begin the advent season…the word means “arrival”…it is the four Sunday’s prior to Christmas that the church has historically celebrated.

*We celebrate the first arrival (the birth of Christ) and the second arrival…yet in the future…the return of Christ.

*This month we will examine humility from the Psalms and in relationship to Advent.

*Today we are in Ps.147…Humility: God reveals himself to us…we could not know ultimate things unless he told us.

Psa. 147:1   Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

146-150 is the last of three “Hallel” or “praise” collections in the Psalms.

*They all begin and end with the phrase “Praise the Lord”.

*In the Hebrew it is “hallel”=praise

*Plus…

*”Yah” (Yahweh) (Lord)

*So “hallel yah”=praise the Lord.

*You probably recognize a single word that evolved from those two words…Hallelujah.

*”Praise the Lord.”

*To be praised is to be thought to be worthy of praise.

*You “praise” others when they show character…like courage, or imitative.

*When they do good things…or reveal good traits…creativity, self-sacrifice, wisdom, humility.

*When someone does something praiseworthy, when someone is praiseworthy…its fitting to give them praise.

*So it’s understandable why its “fitting” to praise God…he, above all others is worthy of being praised.

*But why is it “pleasant”? What might that mean?

*Fitting is “why its right to do”…He is God.

*Pleasant is “what happens in us when we do it.”

*It is pleasant.

*We have spent the year in a book of poetry that uses human emotions good and bad…to describe a life of ongoing disorientation and reorientation.

*I have said that we must embrace emotions as a gift, but never give them the steering wheel…don’t let them drive.

*But there is balance here in this book…emotions must not drive…but we sure want them along for the ride.

*I am moved to tears more often now than I was in my younger past…the kinds of things that move me are increasing not decreasing…this makes my life and my relationships…I think, more full.

*It adds to my enjoyment and my perspective…I am still not what I would call an emotional person, but I welcome emotions more readily than I used to…I see their value.

*At the same time…I hope that I am less inclined to allow my emotions to dictate my choices…I think it is true…I hope it is…sometimes its not.

*Jesus was driven by pure choice and pure passion at the same time…he was able to do in perfection what we can only dabble at times.

*Be fully volitional and fully emotional at the same time.

*Fully in control of his will, his choices…fully embracing his passion, his emotion.

*Here the Psalmist is calling for us to choose…”Praise the Lord”

*Why? Because its “right” of course! It is fitting…he is God.

*But also because it feels right, good, nice…I don’t know how you would describe it…the Psalmist used the word “pleasant.”

*You might say, as I would…”I don’t always feel “pleasant” things when I praise God.”

*But, I’m convinced, the more we choose to “Praise God”…and to do so because it is “fitting” then the more, over time we will experience the “pleasant” aspect of praise.

*Here’s why I believe this is so.

*From an example from the negative…

*When we praise without good understanding of God…we will have a very narrow band in which we will experience the “pleasure” of praise.

*For instance…if we have come to believe (as many do) that God is sort of an all-powerful Santa…I will feel the pleasure of praising him when I feel the pleasure of life going as I want it to go.

*But when life is not going well…I will feel no pleasure in praising “Santa God”…because he ceased to be “praise-worthy”.

*In my mind its not fitting to praise God when he isn’t doing what I want him to do…so its not “pleasant” to do so…in fact, it feels dishonest.

*Students…if you feel like because of hard times, or unanswered prayers…You have lost faith in God…that can be a good thing.

*Are you awake now…If the God you have lost faith in is a figment of your imagination…not the God who exists…its good that you no longer trust that God.

*The God who exists loves you…but he does not exist to make you happy.

*You exist for him…he does not exist for you…that is a grownup concept that many of us grownups have a hard time accepting.

*His desire is for you to be holy, and to find your ultimate happiness in him.

*He will not answer many of your prayers or mine with a “yes” because he could not do so and be wise and good…and he will never fail to be wise and good.

*Why is that…because some of what we ask…is not what we should get.

*So, often he will say “no” to our prayers…

*This should not cause us to doubt him…but to doubt us…our perspective, our own hearts.

*If we could see why he says “no” we would be as grateful for the “no” as the “yes”…but I think we likely wouldn’t have the eyes to see this until after this life is over and we see from the perspective of eternity not time.

*A less developed understanding of the truth of who God is, will, over time…decrease our capacity for feeling the pleasure of praise.

*Because the pleasure of praise will be held captive by the whims of our moods and circumstances rather than the unchanging reality of who God is.

*Now, from a positive angle…when our understanding of God grows…our capacity for the “pleasure of praise” grows as well.

*When we worship the Lord of creation…the God who is above all…then whatever comes our way…he remains God…wise, good, above our ability to fully understand…but we understand him enough to know…all of life is about him not me.

*When this God doesn’t comply with my will…if he says “no” to a request…he remains praiseworthy…because our lives are about him…he is not about us.

*So, it is fitting…when we grow in understanding of God…to praise him in all circumstances.

*And when it is fitting…which is a component of understanding(using our minds)…it is also likely to be “pleasant” a component of our emotion (our feelings)

*This is a very spiritually “grown-up” view…I am often still a child in this area…but this is the direction I know I am to be headed in.

*So…by all means desire, pray for, embrace emotion…God is an emotional being and we are made in his image.

*But embrace emotion that is plugged in to the outlet of understanding…truth about who God is.

*I tend to feel emotions, tears flow…when the thoughts of God, and the words we use to describe him…draw my mind to who God is.

*When I use my mind to understand that worship is “fitting” because of who God is…then I am more likely to feel worship that is “pleasant.”

*Pleasant and fitting…go hand in hand.

*So let’s move forward and look at some things to understand about God…and how we can as humans grow in our understanding…and in increasing fashion…our ability to experience the pleasure of praise.

2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 4 He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.

*These verses seem to be disconnected but they are not.

*v. 2,3…The people had (because of their sin) been taken away into exile. They had lost homes, freedom, hope, loved ones.

*They were brokenhearted, wounded in body and soul…they had seen and experienced the horrors of war…from the perspective of the losing side.

*As a result…they had collective, national, PTSD…their view of the world had been completely turned upside down.

*They were the chosen people of God…THE God…who made all nations…he told them so, he told them they were special.

*Then, a nation who did not know or care about God…beat them…thoroughly…totally.

*So now, you have not just lost your homes and freedom…you have lost your worldview…your God has failed.

*But God had been telling them for hundreds of years…he made them his people in order that they would make him known among all the nations…not so they would dishonor him among the nations.

*They had tried to hoard God’s grace rather than reveal it…and they had presumed on God’s mercy rather than living obediently because of it.

*So they had gone into exile…but now, God had again revealed his grace…he brought them back.

*If you are exile because of sin…hold on…God will bring you back.

*V. 4…jumps suddenly from a national crisis to the cosmos…

*He brought back the exiles…and he determines the number of stars and knows them by name…how do these thoughts go together?

*It is estimated that there are a hundred billion stars in our galaxy (there are billions of galaxies)…about the number of people who have been estimated to have ever lived.

*I don’t know if either number is correct…but the Psalmist knew that a lot of people went into exile…they felt nameless, meaningless, forgotten…single insignificant souls among the masses of souls.

*But he also could look up at the heavens and see the countless stars…and God had revealed that those stars were not nameless…he knew them, each one.

*The word for “determines” means to “take an interest in”…to “know”

*The infinite God of the cosmos…the namer and knower of stars…gathers his people, heals their broken hearts…knows their names.

*What ties together the national crisis and the cosmos…is the God who knows the stars by name, and knows you by name.

*It is no cliché to say that he knows you personally…in fact it is a truth vital to being able to understand who God is and to be able to grow in your capacity for the pleasure of praise.

*You must know and believe that he knows you…takes personal in interest in you…so that praise will be fitting and pleasant.

5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. 6 The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

*Next the humble are contrasted with the wicked.

*Humble here is not a choice…like the really rich man who doesn’t talk about his money, or the really strong man who doesn’t show off his strength.

*Humble here is a reality of need, of lack…weak, oppressed, the poor

*The humble don’t feel or choose to be humble here…they just are…they are humble in their station in life.

*They are hamsters…and life has made it abundantly clear to them.

*In contrast to the wicked…who in this context had been oppressing these humble ones.

*The Lord sustains (helps) the humble…but he “casts to the ground”…word means to “humble” the wicked.

*He helps the helpless…those who think they don’t need help…he humbles.

7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.

*He repeats the call to choose to praise God…this time with an emphasis on thanksgiving.

*Then he lists some of the reasons why God is “praiseworthy”…why it is fitting.

8 He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. 9 He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.

*He provides for animals on the ground and in the sky.

*The rain doesn’t just fall…crops don’t just grow.

*God provides rain and crops.

*Describing how things work does not explain why things are.

*You could tell me how a painting is made…in scientific detail…but that does not tell me why a painting has been made…and it certainly doesn’t imply that the painting has made itself. 

10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; 11 the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

*Next he describes what the Lord takes delight in…its not proud self-sufficiency…but dependent humility.

*This doesn’t mean that he isn’t glad he made horses or men with strength.

*It is referring to military might…putting trust in your horses would be like trusting in your tanks and fighter jets.

*And the legs of man refers to trusting in self for security and significance.

*The Lord doesn’t delight in those who trust themselves…He delights in, he enjoys…those who put their hopes in his hesed…his unfailing…covenant love.

12 Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion, 13 for he strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. 14 He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat. 15 He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. 16 He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. 17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? 18 He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

*Again…a call to choose worship (extol means to “glory in”…wrap your heart and hopes around)..then to verbalize that worship.

*You can extol the “KC Chiefs” …you can lift them high in your heart and mind…and what you lift high in your heart and mind comes out of your mouth.

*To extol means to “praise enthusiastically”…

*If you watch sports this weekend…you will see a lot of extoling going on.

*I was in the Y last night and I heard a man ask another man “what’s going on with you?”

-The man responded by giving the outcomes of all of the football and basketball games that he had an interest in that day…that was what was going on with him.

*He was extoling…his teams, loudly in the locker room at the Y.

*Extol doesn’t require loudness…but it does reflect passion.

*Once again, to worship God…to extol him… is not about passion hung in midair…meaning factless, emotion only worship

*But passion built solidly on the facts of who God is…passion that is fitting because it understands something about God.

*He brought his people back from exile, allowed them to rebuild their city and their lives.

*Then you have here the poetry of snow, hail, breezes, rain…this is demonstrating his control of the seasons.

*The Sun is not to be worshipped as many did when this Psalm was written…it was common to worship the sun then…to worship the cosmos.

*Now it is common to worship descriptions and explanations of the cosmos…science.

*So we should neither worship the sun nor turn it into the random and lucky circumstances of a round nuclear furnace hung in space…that through our cosmic good fortune…happens to be just the right size, distance, and type of star that allowed human life to develop and survive.

*No…God put it there…it is physical, real (not a god to be worshippped)…with describable “laws”….but it doesn’t obey these laws because humans described them.

*The sun does what God has designed it to do.

*The same with the rain…the snow…the seasons

*The earth rises to face the sun each morning and them does an about face each night.

*As our night falls…another part of our planet is waking to the morning sun.

*As our planet travels in its year-long journey around the sun…the reasons change…summer, fall, winter, spring.

*God has done this…God sustains this…we can describe how it happens…God is the reason that it happens.

*We are to use out minds…our creativity and curiosity…but do so with humility

*Because for all that we can discover…we cannot know the most important things unless God had revealed them to us.

19 He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. 20 He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the LORD.

*After all this amazing stuff…God’s provision, control of the seasons

*His placing and naming of stars…restoring refugees to their homeland.

*The psalmist concludes with is the most important thing that God has done for us…he has revealed himself to us.

*He revealed his word (who he is, what he has done, what he will do, what he wants, why we are made…how we can know him.)

*Its impossible to overstate how important this is.

*We began with the over confidence evolutionist.

*He says he “knows” but he really believes.

*What he says he believes about…origins, purpose, and destiny…he has to discover on his own.

*Yet…how can we discover these things?…they are beyond discovery.

*What has always been there (origins)…why is there anything (purpose)…what will happen in the end (destiny)…cannot be discovered through observation or experiment.

*These cannot be discovered…they can only be revealed…God must speak…and he has.

*That’s why this conclusion is so important…God has spoken to us.

*Humility is an essential quality for humanity.

*Why?

*Because humility is a reality for us…we are humble beings.

*Humble can mean an attitude or a choice…it can also be a position, a description of who we are…humble beings.

*We might say about someone…”He came from humble origins”…this doesn’t mean his origins don’t brag…it means he didn’t have anything to brag about.

*We are hamsters…the smartest hamster in the world, the richest, the most powerful hamster…is still a hamster.

*Humility is required to see what is true…we are humble beings.

*But we are not mere hamsters…we are loved by the one who is worthy of praise.

*It does not honor God to despise ourselves.

*The goal as Lewis defined humility is “Not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

*Humility is a shy thing…very evasive…you chase it…you don’t catch it.

*You try to shine a light on it to get a better look at it…it disappears.

*Humility is the result of pursuing God and others.

*Trusting the God who has spoken…he told us what we could not discover on our own…who he is, who we are, how we can know him, why we are here.

*Shame is not humility, low self-esteem is not humility…they are just different manifestations of human pride.

*They are still thinking too much and too often of self.

*So back to the Hallelujah Psalms…

*Praise the Lord…it is both pleasant and fitting.

*It is the right thing to do, and it is the pleasing thing to do.

*The choice to praise God…not just with lips but with life…is how we reorient ourselves to reality.

*To praise God…THE God, as he is…not a sr. partner, not a cosmic Santa, not a doting grandfather…but as God, Lord of heaven and earth…both requires and feeds real humility.

*It requires humility because we must think rightly of him and rightly of ourselves.

*Humility is realization…it is a description of our reality…we have nothing to be proud about…

*1 Cor. 4:7 “what do you have that you did not receive? And if you did received it, why do you boast as if you did not?”

*It also feeds, or fuels humility.

*This practice of right thinking about the reality of our lives…and the corresponding worship of God as he really is…leads to choices that line up with both realities…we are humble…now we must act towards God and others with humility.

*God is great, I am his servant…since God is great, and I am his servant…I will honor him, and I will love you…I will honor him by loving you.

*Jesus, was not humble in the sense of being needy, impoverished…he is God…all glory and honor and power belong to him.

*He humbled himself by taking on human form…and by allowing himself to be killed for our sins.

Phil. 2:1   If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5   Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

*Here is a conclusive, all-inclusive verse on how to live the Christian life in a way that is God magnifying and brings the “pleasure of worship” into our lives.

2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 

*This is taking worship to the streets…it is fitting to worship God, and we will experience the pleasure of worship as we live putting the interests of others first.

*Worship of God should lead to love, patience, defference for others.

*Think much of him, by looking to interests of others…and you will think less often of yourself…and you will increase your capacity for “the pleasure of worship”

*It is always fitting (right) to worship God.

*May God help us to more regularly find it “pleasant” to worship him…with our lips and our lives.

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