Monday, March 7, 2011

What Has God Done for You Today?

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Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, March 6, 2011

Psalm 111:1-10, “Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and full of compassion. He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant. He has declared to His people the power of His works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of His hands are verity and justice; all His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: holy and awesome is His name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”

Do you know how much your God has done for you, today?

Christians, by virtue of who they are, where they stand before God through Christ, what they have received from God in Christ, more than any other people, Christians should be aware of how much God has done for them. And yet, many times, we aren’t.

We have a song in our hymnal that begins with the words, “To God be the glory great things He has done…” It’s a beautiful song; a song that many of us would call one of our favorites. And, yet perhaps far too often we sing a song like that and never stop to think about its message: ‘This song was written for ME! This song was meant to give me a way to express my appreciation and my JOY over the fact that God has done all these great things for ME!’

What has God done for you, today? How would you respond to that question?

Sometimes when I begin the day, as I try to drive away the grogginess and battle toward alertness, I’ll think of some of the names and titles of our God. And, in kind of a random fashion, I will praise Him and thank Him for Who He is. He is Elohim, my mighty Creator and Sustainer. In Him I live and move and have my very being. He is Jehovah Jireh, my Provider, my Sufficiency. The One Who says to His people - tormented as they often are by thorns in the flesh, weaknesses, the IN-sufficiencies of our humanness - ‘My grace is ENOUGH for you. For My power is made perfect in [your] weakness.’

Or, I’ll think of Him, I will praise Him as my Righteousness: Jehovah T-sidkenu, My Justifier; or as my Holiness: Jehovah M-Kaddesh, my Sanctifier; or, as my Salvation: Jehovah Yeshua, My Deliverer; or, as my Shepherd: Jehovah Ro-i. And, all of that challenges me, it speaks to me, it confronts me with the fact – undeniably true – ‘This is who God is to you, David!’ ‘These are the things that God has done for you!’

This psalm, our study, one of a cluster of chapters at this point in the book of Psalms all of which begin and/or end with the word, ‘Hallelujah’ or the concept, the exhortation to praise the Lord. This psalm – Psalm 111 – focuses our attention, as those who hold it in our hands, as those privileged to read it, to pray it, to sing it and to examine it, over and over to this one theme: ‘Look what God has done for you!’ If you were making notes and wanting to sum up the message and content of this passage in one or two words, it would be these words: God’s work and God’s works. Look across the text again with me and make note of what the psalmist tells us about God’s work and His works… Verse two: what an appropriate place to start, wouldn’t you say? Christian, you know this don’t you? David, you see this, don’t you? God’s works are GREAT! That one word describing the magnitude of God’s works and the meaningfulness of God’s works, that they are GREAT, that one word says it all, doesn’t it? God’s works are great! Then, there’s verse four where the psalmist reminds us that God’s works are wonderful. It’s the very same word David the psalmist uses in Psalm 139 to describe the intimate, ever-present, all-encompassing knowledge God had of his life. He said, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too incomprehensible for me, it is high; I cannot attain it.” It is the same word David used in verse 14 of that one hundred and thirty-ninth psalm to describe what God did, His marvelous creative work, when He knit David together in his mother’s womb: “I will praise You,” he said, “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

God’s works are great, God’s works are wonderful… Verse 6: then notice next, the text informs us that God’s works are POWERFUL. They are powerful! One of my favorite passages where this word, this idea of the power of God at work in HIS works is that portion of Scripture our dear sister, Ruby Bounds, used to share with us. You remember it, don’t’ you? Isaiah 40:27-31. It begins with these hauntingly honest words, uttered from the mouths of God’s people, yes, from our mouths, sometimes. “My way is hidden from the Lord… My justice is passed over and forgotten by my God…” Ever felt that way? ‘God, You’ve forgotten about little ‘ole me, way down here on planet earth…’ ‘Hey God! Remember! You-who! I’m here! I need you… would you help me, please?!’

God’s works, what did the psalmist say? He tells us that God’s works are POWERFUL! “Do you now know? Have you not heard? The Lord, the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He never grows weary or tired, His understanding [His knowledge of our lives and our needs] is never ending. He gives strength – there’s our key word – to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He gives power [there it is again!]. Even youths grow weary and tired, and young men [think of it, my gray-haired friends] stumble and fall. But… [there’s the key transition word, right?] But those who wait on the LORD, those who continue to hope and trust and lean on the LORD, will gain new strength [there’s our word one more time], they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint…” My loved ones, God’s works are powerful. And look here, back to the text, in verse 6. Look at what the text says about the direction, the target God has for His works of power! “Tell it to My people!” He says. ‘Declare to My children what powerful things their Father has done for THEM!’

Verse 7: what has God done for you? Do you have any idea how much He has done for you and me, His children? Great things He has done for us. Wonderful things He has done for us. Mighty things He has done for us. And then the text lets us in on the fact that God has also done, with His own hands, think of it! Think of all that God has done for you, with His hands, He created you, knit you together in your mother’s womb. We saw that in Psalm 139 a moment ago. He has fed you, met your needs physically, verse 5 says. And, then – what about His nail-scarred hands? What has our great God and Savior Jesus Christ done for us with THOSE hands? It’s there! If we’re not blind to see it! It’s there, in Old Testament, somewhat hidden fashion, I know; but it’s there, nonetheless. What’s there? The Cross, my friends, the Cross is there, HERE, in this psalm which describes so beautifully, so meaningfully the works and work of God. The Cross, the ultimate work of God accomplished using His own dear Son’s nail-pierced hands, the Cross is there – here – in verse nine of the text. Notice what it says God has done for us with His hands… “He has sent redemption, Jehovah Go-el, our Redeemer, our Kinsman-Redeemer, where? To His people!” Praise God.

The works of God’s hands, what does verse seven have to say to us about the works of God’s hands? 3 words, all of them, ultimately descriptive in nature; three ways in which God displays WHO He is through what He has done: His works, and what He has spoken: His words. What are the three words? Verse seven, ‘verity’. That’s a word we’re not terribly familiar with, but it’s a word that ought to remind us of many of the red-letter words of the New Testament. You know what the ‘Red Letter words’ are, don’t you? The words of our Lord, the words of Jesus, recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. ‘Verity’, the works of God’s hands are ‘verity’. The red-letter words I am thinking about in connection with the word ‘verity’ are the words, ‘verily, verily’. Time and time again, Jesus begins a statement, a declaration He wants folks like us never to forget, with the words, ‘verily, verily’. What do those words mean? To say it simply, they mean: “truly, truly…” Or, “most assuredly”, or “one hundred percent for certain…”

Now, look again at Psalm 111:7. The psalmist, speaking of God’s mighty and marvelous works, tells us that God’s works - and His words, His precepts – are verity, truthfulness, certainty! Absolute! And, they are justice. It’s a word that pertains to God’s role as the final, the ultimate JUDGE of all. God’s works are verity, certainty, truthfulness. And, God’s works are justice, from the always just Judge. And, then, number three: notice how God’s works and His word are intertwined. The psalmist instructs us in the fact that God’s word – His precepts, the things He directs and appoints – are sure! ‘Sure.’ To God’s words we can say ‘so be it!’, we can pronounce the ‘Amen’!

We began our study time this morning with a provocative question to us and a challenging observation about us; do you remember what they were?

Before we close, allow me to bring these back to your attention:

First, the question, ‘do you know how much your God has done for you?’ And, then, the observation: by virtue of who we are, as the people of God, by virtue of where we stand before God, in Christ, we – more than any other people – should be aware of how much God has done for us. We ought to, but are we?

The Lord-willing, next time we’re together, I’d like for us to consider an important, related question that pertains to our study of this text: the question, “how am I to respond to God’s great, wonderful, powerful, compassionate works? What am I to do in light of what He’s done for me?”

But, for now, allow me to wrap up this psalm that begins and ends with the words “Praise ye the Lord,” “Hallelujah”, by taking you to verse three. God’s works, great as they are, powerful as they are, wonderful as they are, certain as they are. These observations about God’s works all point us in one direction – verse three – God’s works, ultimately for us, the people of God, what are they? They are honorable, and they are glorious!

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. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord! Let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let’s God’s people rejoice! O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory, great things He has done.

And, give Him the glory, great things, powerful things, wonderful things, He has done!

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