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Contentment – Week 4 Notes

By November 22, 2020Sermon Notes

11.22.20 INTRO:

What is Data(Dayta) or what are Data(Data is plural, Datum is singular) or who is Data (Star Trek Fans)

Data plan on your phone…what is that?

If you want an expert’s perspective on Data…Talk to Joy Eakin she is president of Cornerstone data…her company “loves to organize and analyze data.”

(Is it “day ta” or “daa ta”…technically its “day ta”…so the Star Trek android was correctly named)

But I tend to involuntarily switch back and forth…probably will this morning.

By the way…I’m going to say Data “is” versus Data “are” because Data “are” sounds weird to me (even though it’s correct)

Some of you are asking already “why are you talking about this?”

Data is used to make decisions…important decisions.

Data is used to determine whether to go to war…how to wage war…it translates into…PTSD, lost lives and limbs, lost families, ravaged countries.

I believe war is sometimes a necessary evil in the world…but it is an evil and its all the more important to get the data right.

It’s used to determine whether to shut down cities and economies…and for how long…with costs in terms of mental health, lost livelihoods and many other hidden and not so hidden costs.

It’s being used to determine whether and how a vaccine works…who to give it to.

It will be used by people to determine whether they get the vaccine or not.

It’s used to determine whether a suicide prevention plan is needed or working…and that data then has implications on so many levels

I have sat in meetings in DC listening to talks by experts on Data related to suicide intervention and prevention.

Then I have officiated a funeral where a child wailed at the graveside of her father who died by suicide.

I’m not blaming that death on the use or misuse data…but data makes its way all the way down to where we live our lives.

Data has been used and misused to justify all kinds of terrible acts and decisions…and to make great, informed, helpful choices.

You move through life using data.

“Uh uh…not me…I hate math”

You do, we all do.

Without getting too far in the weeds, let’s look at how data is related to wisdom…our theme for this year…

By the way, we are wrapping up Wisdom this week…next week we being Advent to finish out 2020.

Data, knowledge, and wisdom are closely related concepts but each has its own meaning.

Data is assumed to be the least abstract concept of the three.

So, the height of Mount Everest would be considered a data point.

You can measure it with an altimeter and put it in a data base of the heights of mountains.

Knowledge would be what a Sherpa who has spent his life climbing Everest has acquired.

He can tell you the height in terms of meters but he can tell you much more…he has extensive knowledge of what it takes to reach the top of Everest.

He can give you that knowledge…put it in a book or a movie…you can accumulate the knowledge.

But try to read a book or watch a YouTube video then go climb Everest…you will be dead.

You need wisdom…wisdom is the practical application of knowledge

The Sherpa can tell you data…how high, how long, temperatures, how many pounds of food and oxygen are normally required.

He can give you a wide range of knowledge…how those data work together.

But wisdom…is something of “art and science”…it is knowing things and experiencing things…and becoming something.

Someone with skill…skilled at life, has wisdom.

So, what is the point…you ask again.

The point is that wisdom for humans is worship…our hearts properly ordered around the purpose of our existence.

We don’t exist to “do stuff” then die.

We exist to know and love God and make his love known.

Worship…a life lived in the wisdom of true purpose…is not merely based on how I feel, or seeking to drum up some kinds of emotions.

Emotions are great servants…terrible masters.

If we follow them, they can take us off the cliff.

True worship is based on true facts

We follow the facts…the data…in order to worship God correctly.

Orthodoxy is a word that means “correct doctrine” or right beliefs about God.

But the word comes from two words that together mean “straight praise”

-Ortho (orthopedics, orthodontics)


True worship requires correct information regarding who God is…straight, correct praise.

David used data in the Psalm we will look at this morning.

God used when talking to Job, or Elijah, or…well a bunch of people.

He laid out data points…let’s look at Elijah

Elijah was suicidal, depressed, emotionally overwhelmed, hungry, tired.

(1 Kings 19)

Elijah had just seen God move in amazing ways…then he was running for his life from a murderous queen.

Exhausted, he sat under a tree.

He said to God “kill me…my life is worthless.”

Then he fell asleep.

When he woke up God had provided food…then God allowed him to sleep some more.

Then he ate again.

You see the balance of how God has designed us at work here?…he doesn’t tell Elijah…

“Get up and pray”…that would be a bad idea and God never has bad ideas.

He lets him sleep, then when he wakes up, he doesn’t say “do your devos and you will feel better.”

He says “Here eat, I’ve made breakfast for you.”

Now…go back to sleep.

Then…eat again.

Then he embarked on a journey of 40 days…I think it is to give him time to get to a place of perspective where he can accurately hear from God.

There in a cave he encountered God in a way that caused him to fall on his face in fear and worship.

Finally, God asked him. “What are you doing here Elijah?”

Elijah then laid out his case (gave his perspective/feelings)…that by the way, did NOT align with the facts.

“I have obeyed you, given my all for you…but nothing is changing…the people forsake you, kill all the prophets…I am the only one left.”

God didn’t just say “there, there…just sing until you feel better”

Or “I understand how you feel…it’s okay to feel like you are the only one…I mean I actually am the only one.”

God said “Here’s what is going to happen and here is what is actually true about your situation.”

It WAS important that Elijah be honest with God.

It was MORE important that Elijah understand the facts as they are.

God reframed things for Elijah…he gave him facts, data points…truth.

One of those data points was a number… “You are far from the only one left, there are 7000 left, who like you, follow me and not the false gods.”

Okay…if you actually believed a certain data point… “There is exactly 1 left who follows God…me…and I’m exhausted and ready to be dead…my life is not making any difference.”

How important would God’s correction be…“No there are 7000, this is not all on you.”

It is important what you feel…it is essential what you know.

It is essential that what you know, what you believe, what you live…is actually, factually real.

Now…let’s go to Psalm 103…look at wisdom, worship, and data points.

First let me tell you a story about facts and feelings and this Psalm.

A week ago, Thursday Greg Greer called

-We are in Colorado for Hannah’s wedding but we need to move the wedding, can we use your backyard?

-They packed up, headed for Wichita…Friday they were setting up and Greg said…

“The person who was going to do the ceremony tomorrow has Covid, can you do it instead.”

Now…what are the feelings swirling around the families minds, hearts?

Now what are the facts?…the data points…where do they come from?

Do they focus on circumstances, perceptions, feelings…or on something else?

I’ll give you a hint…they focused on something else.

They felt what they felt…but they focused on what they knew.

What had God done…in their lives in the past.

The family had gone to Thailand many years ago….the kids were raised there.

They saw God move in the midst of challenges and changes.

They had experiences…on this day God did this.

They also had Scripture…data points of God’s activities in the Bible.

They had data points…objective facts that can be applied in the midst of emotional turmoil.

Now based on those facts…what “has” God done

Let’s trust God today…what God “is” doing.

I used (per Hannah’s request) Ps 103 for the wedding charge.

I’m going to use it now for our final “wisdom charge”.

Let me read then, then let’s talk about it.

As I read…listen carefully for data points…and how David uses that data to come to right conclusions…good decisions.

Psalm 103

Of David.

1      Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2      Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—

3      who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

4      who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

5      who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6      The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

7      He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:

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

9      He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10    he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

11    For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

12    as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13    As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

14    for he knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust.

15    As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16    the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

17    But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—

18    with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

19    The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

20    Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding,

who obey his word.

21    Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.

22    Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.

  1. David speaks truth to his own soul

1Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Here David is telling his inmost being, his “soul” what to do.

He is telling himself what to believe and then what to do.

How does this work?

Well…it can work quite well if you learn to tell yourself the truth.

Lord of the Rings, Gollum/Smegal is a great picture of a person wrestling with himself as to what to believe and what to become.

“Master is kind and trustworthy”…says Smegal.

-Then he points to data that demonstrate this to be true.

“Master is wicked, selfish, cruel”…says Gollum (alter ego)

-Then he points out data that points this direction.

Smegal/Gollum…same person, wrestling with what to believe…what you believe determines what you will become.

Gollum wins…and he becomes a fully twisted being.

David is telling his soul what to do…worship.

He is telling his own soul…to remember what God has done.

David once paid a heavy price for allowing his emotions and physical passions to be in charge.

This relinquishing control of himself to emotion and passion led to murder, adultery…and the death of his son.

I don’t think he is just sitting around plucking his guitar…humming “praise the lord, hey yeah, soul let’s just praise the Lord.”

I can imagine him considering some data points here.

I remember a time when I allowed my emotions and passions to boss me around…I gave in and followed them.

-Here’s the facts: a loyal man is dead, I took his wife, I lost my child, I lost joy, peace, purpose.

No…not today… “Soul…listen up! Emotions, passions, moods…all you guys…stand at attention…praise the Lord! Remember his benefits!”

Elections, Virus, shutdowns, social unrest, personal struggles, relational struggles…constant lack of constants

Who will you allow to be in charge?

Who gets to determine what you will believe and become?

Will you judge your emotions and perceptions by what is true of God?

Or will you judge what is true of God by your emotions and perceptions?

  1. David recalls the data (dayta) points of God’s faithfulness

6      The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

7      He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:  

David is reflecting on human history’s greatest example of a people failing to tell themselves the truth.

A continual failure to remember God’s faithfulness.

Israel was oppressed, suffering, slaves…for centuries.

The way God brought them to freedom was incredible.

Yet, as you read about the Exodus you see over and over…God giving data points of his faithfulness…facts… “on this day, in this way…God did this.”

But over and over God’s people lived based on passions and perceptions.

“I’m hungry, I’m sick of his food, I’m scared”

“We had it better in Egypt”

Wow…really, it was terrible there

David is poetically and briefly remembering how God rescued his people and though there was judgment…there was ongoing mercy, undeserved mercy.

He is also remembering his own history of unfaithfulness and God faithfulness.

You see it in this line…

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

That was a very personal data point for David in his enormous failure.

The exodus was history’s greatest example of people believing their passions and perceptions…and history’s second greatest example of God showing mercy and grace in spite of this fact.

What was the greatest example?…the cross.

“God demonstrates his love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

You have some data points of God’s faithful love to you.

What are they?

How often do you rehearse them, remember them?

One that we all have in common is the cross of Christ.

There, God demonstrated his own love for you in this… even though you are a sinner, undeserving of grace…Christ died for you.

Look for data points in your own life story…they are there.

There is also some “Gollum” evidence…things that appear to indicate God doesn’t care.

Why did this bad thing happen?

What did he allow this or not cause that?

I’ve been getting questions from children in Super church…it has been really fun to make some videos addressing those questions.

One recently was “Why did God make Covid?”

Great question…shows the kinds of questions very young children are wrestling with.

*I won’t give my whole answer but here’s part of it:

-God made the world and it was good

-We broke it

-Like your little brother breaking your wonderful Lego creation

We don’t outgrow those questions…but we must become really good at telling our soul the truth.

All questions of good and evil…suffering and God’s goodness circle back to the cross.

There we have God’s final answer to the question. “If you are good and powerful…why is there so much evil and suffering…what are you going to do about it?”

I have done, and I am doing, and I will do something about it…Christ came, Christ is changing people, Christ will return.

The cross of Christ is not an idea, an emotion, a spiritual story…it is an historical fact.

On a certain day, in a certain place…Christ died on a wooden instrument of torture and execution.

But that fact…that data point is not just a bare fact…God has told us what the data means…he has analyzed it for us.

It means he does see and care about human evil and suffering…it means he reconciled us to him through the death of Christ.

Our greatest need was reconciliation to God.

It means he is active and involved and is in the process of fixing what we have broken.

It means he cares about us individually…but we must as individuals take hold of what God is offering us in Christ.

  1. David speaks truth to his soul
  2. He recalls the data points of God’s faithfulness
  1. David rejoices in the Lord’s tender compassion on his kids

13    As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

14    for he knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust.

When your children are suffering, hurting…it doesn’t help to tell them the facts…not in that moment. 

I mean generally yes…facts of… “I love You” “I’m here” 

But not “Remember 3 years ago, when you were 2 and you fell down…I gave you a Band-Aid…it will eventually heal, relax.”

In the moment you provide comfort…realizing they are just children.

But what is it that allows you to do that, to provide them comfort?

From the child’s perspective…what causes you to be a comfort to them?

When a child is hurt, confused, scared…are they happy to receive comfort from just any adult.

“I’m terrified, and I don’t know you…but you’ll do.”

Not at all…the child looks for mom or dad…why.

Because even in the emotions, or especially so of the moment….the child is without realizing it…using data points.

Who has been there over and over for me?

Who held me when I was sick?

Who plays with me, who feeds me, who reads me stories.

What are these? Data points…data points of love and faithfulness.

Leading to trust in times of trouble.

When the child is overwhelmed by emotion…the child wants the one who has shown them love…in real and tangible ways.

There are two important things to reflect on here.

  1. God is our loving father even when we forget to remember.

-He knows we are weak, frail, dust.

-He does not “blast us” when we struggle…he is a good Father.

-Christ was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sinning.

He isn’t demanding perfect faith…he doesn’t expect that our thinking always align with what is real and true.

*He is a good father…offering relationship and presence when we are confused and hurting.

  1. We are his children…and we must grow up in our faith…we should not stay immature kids.

We need to choose to remember who God is and what he has done…even when we are feeling like children, overwhelmed by emotion.

We are to become his grown-up kids…who are more and more are ruled by the facts of our relationship with God…not just the feelings of our circumstances.

This is not the absence of passion and emotion…this is passion and emotion all grown up…because it is based on the facts of who God is not just our feelings.

-When we are struggling, suffering, afraid…we can learn to go to God rather than turn from him.

-The child doesn’t have to understand all the parent is up to in order to receive care and comfort.

-We don’t have to figure God out to experience his care and comfort.

*We do need to train our souls to remember and to trust.

  1. David finishes with the Facts of God and the wise response to those facts

19    The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

He is God.

It is all is made by him and for him…that is the basic fact of reality.

*Another common question from our kids:

-Who made God?

-Where did he get his power?

They know that something is here. Something doesn’t come from nothing. 

Something has always been.

What exists includes the personal (not just rocks and sticks and stars…there are people)

What has always been must be personal.

A personal God has always existed…all things exist by him and for him.

This is the ultimate data point to make sense out of your life

It’s how the Bible begins.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

In the beginning of all stuff and tine…God…already was.

The proper response (human wisdom) that flows from that data point is…

20    Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding,

who obey his word.

21    Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.

22    Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.

All created things in the universe…spiritual and physical…praise the Lord (you are to live for his glory)

“And my soul…yeah you, I’m talking to you…praise the Lord.”

Invitation to true wisdom: Tell your soul the truth of God.

Song…listen to the words carefully. (on Screen…but don’t sing, just hear)

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