REMEMBERING GOD'S FAITHFULNESS

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 18 views
Notes
Transcript

Introduction

-{We’re going to look at Psalm 118 today—and doing it a little differently, reading it bit by bit instead of all at once}
-Author Michelle Johnson wrote a personal story about an experience she had of God. She said that sometimes we need to take a look at where we’ve been with God to really understand His faithfulness and love for us.
~She related a story about staying with her son at the hospital following a serious surgery. On one particular morning, it had been a long, rough night, she was exhausted by their stay, and her steps were slow as she walked to the cafeteria for breakfast.
~While waiting for the elevator, she looked out a nearby window, and it brought back a memory of her own stay at that same hospital on that same floor many years earlier. She had a six-week stay at the hospital after a car accident. At the time the doctors said she'd never walk normally, she'd have arthritis within a year, and she'd have to have a hip replacement within 5 years. None of that happened. Thirty-five years later, the memories of God’s faithfulness during those days moved her to tears, but it also moved her toward gratefulness and worship, and then also to trust that her son would be well taken care of.
-When we are going through current struggles, we have a tendency to forget what God has done for us in the past, and it may even blind us to what God is doing for us in the present.
-But if we would bring up the memories of God’s past faithfulness, it renews our trust in God for our present troubles and causes us to thrust ourselves upon Him both now and into the future.
-And really, that’s what Purple Sunday is about. Bringing back to our remembrance that God has done and will do great and mighty works in our lives—therefore, let us worship Him and thank Him and trust Him from now on.
-Our God is a good God, Amen? Our God is a loving God, Amen? Our God is a patient and merciful God, Amen? Our God has done something great and awesome in our lives in the past, Amen? Therefore, God will still do great and mighty things for us now and in the future, Amen?
-We agree to that, but sometimes we just need a little nudge to recognize that—and that is what today is all about.
-The psalmist here gives thanks and praise in remembrance of God’s faithful works in the lives of His people and reminds us that it is good to reflect on God’s faithful work in our lives and then return to Him thanksgiving, praise, and trust.
-May God’s past faithfulness give you confidence that He is still working in your life today and the rest of your life.
-Let’s study this psalm. First, there is:

I) A Call to Recognize God’s Works

READ PSALM 118:1-4
Psalm 118:1–4 ESV
1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
-Now, Psalm 118 is part of what is called the Hallel psalms, which consists of psalms 113-118. They were recited at most of the major Jewish festivals when the Jews would celebrate something great that God had done.
-These psalms were recited at the Passover, calling to remembrance that God delivered Israel from Egypt by great and powerful displays of power, and led them to their freedom—these psalms called the Jews to recognize what God had done for them.
-These psalms were read during the celebration of Hanukkah, when the Jews booted out the abominations that Antiochus Epiphanes placed in the temple—where they then cleansed the temple and rededicated it to God. They recognized that God had brought them back to the land and given them that temple and made it possible to worship Him.
-And there were numerous other festivals and festivities where these psalms were read, and the reason being that they are a call to recognize God’s work in the lives of the people.
-You can see in this psalm that the psalmist repeats himself for emphasis that God’s people are to give Him thanks because His CHESED love, His faithful love, His covenant-keeping love, endures toward His people for all eternity.
-Once you are one of God’s people, no one can take God’s faithfulness away from you—no human, no natural disaster, and not even sin on your part can take away His CHESED love; therefore give thanks—recognize God’s works in your life
-And I believe that there are three reasons why recognizing God’s works is so important for us?

A) A change of our heart disposition

-When you give thanks and recognize what God has done in your life, it changes the state of your heart.
-So often we fall into bouts of personal pity parties. We run into some sort of trouble in our lives and we begin to wail WOE IS ME, and we begin to concentrate on how we’ve been wronged or how miserable we are.
-We give way to a complaining / angry / critical / bitter spirit. But when we take the time to recognize God’s works in our lives, our whole disposition changes. We remember what God has done and what He can do, and so our hearts become contrite and we become content because we remember how good our God really is and how wonderful He has been to us.
-And so, recognizing God’s works in our lives changes our heart disposition, but it also gives:

B) A renewal of our primary commitment

-Now think about this: when we are throwing our pity party and we are all WOE IS ME, where is our focus? Who is our primary concern? WE ARE!
-When we are like that, all we think about is ourselves, and our focus is on making our lives better or easier or more comfortable or whatever. We are the center of our own little world.
-But when we recognize God’s work in our lives, where does the focus turn to? It turns to God. And when that happens we get realigned to what is most important.
-When our focus is on God we have a heavenly mindset—we have a godly perspective—and we are able to live honoring Him. We can’t do that when we are all concentrated on self.
-So, recognizing God’s works in our lives renews our primary commitment. But there is also:

C) A boost of our future trust

-Last week Brother Bob talked about the devil being a deceiver and an accuser—but not only does the devil accuse us in front of God, but the devil accuses God of wrongdoing to us. And when we are in our pity parties, we are bound to agree with him.
-We’ll begin to think that God has done us wrong. That God is being mean. That God no longer loves us. Etc.
-But when we recognize how God has already worked in our lives, we will know what good He has done for us and it ought to cause us to trust Him with whatever else is coming our way. When we count the many times God has done something in our lives in the past, it will bolster our faith that God will be just as faithful in the present and the future.
-All of this is why the psalmist gives this call to recognize God’s works in our lives. But then in the rest of the psalm, the psalmist gives:

II) A Testimony to How God Works

-The psalmist spends the rest of the psalm giving a testimony about how God worked in the lives of His people. He recalls the great and mighty things that God had done, and these are the reasons for the thankfulness and praise and trust that he calls for earlier.
-Now, everyone here has some sort of testimony to give about the goodness of our God. But in case you don’t think you have one, hopefully the psalmist’s testimony will spark some remembrance.
-First, he talks about

A) God our help in distress (vv. 5-7)

READ PSALM 118:5-7
Psalm 118:5–7 ESV
5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. 6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 7 The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
-The psalmist cried out to God in some sort of distress, and he says that God helped Him. It is a picture of God coming alongside someone during a time of trouble, and God lifting the burden of what that person was dealing with.
-We all like to think that we are strong enough to handle things on our own, but sometimes we are just stuck under something in life and God has to help us out of it.
-It reminds me about a time several years ago when I was trying to get something out from under one of the kids’ beds. I don’t remember what it was—it may have been a cat. Our cats get locked up at night and they used to like to hide under beds to try and escape us. So, I may have been trying to get a cat. But all I remember is trying to get back out from under the bed and I was stuck. I could not get back out. So, Trish and the kids had to come and lift the bed, so I could get free.
-When we get stuck in some sort of distress, God comes and helps us out of it. Some of you might be able to testify to that. But then he testifies:

B) God is our refuge from enemies (vv. 8-18)

READ PSALM 118:8-18
Psalm 118:8–18 ESV
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. 10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 12 They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! 13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. 15 Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly, 16 the right hand of the Lord exalts, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!” 17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. 18 The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
-A refuge is a place of safety. It is a fortress—it is the place that is strong enough to repel any invading forces that might try to do someone harm.
-The Jews knew all about attacking armies. They had many enemies over the centuries—but the psalmist said that God is their refuge (God is the place where they run to for safety).
-A psalmist said in Psalm 20:7
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. (Ps. 20:7 ESV)
-When enemies attack and malign and persecute, the psalmist said not to trust in earthly or human ways, but to run to God for protection.
-It reminds me of a game I played with the kids when they were real young—we called it TICKLE MONSTER. All it was was a game of tag, but instead of tagging them I’d grab them and tickle them, and then they were it. But in this game there was a base, that as long as they were touching that base there was nothing I could do to them. I couldn’t tag them, grab them, or tickle them—it was the place of safety from the TICKLE MONSTER.
-The psalmist says that God Himself is that refuge—that place of safety. And we need to hear that in our day. As our enemies grow and gain more power, we don’t trust in a politician or a political party, we don’t trust in earthly weapons, we don’t trust in worldly wisdom—we run to God.
-Maybe some of you remember a time where God protected you from some enemies. It was Him that did it, and not any smarts or finagling on your part. But then the psalmist also notes:

C) God is our provider of salvation (vv. 19-25)

READ PSALM 118:19-25
Psalm 118:19–25 ESV
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!
-Several verses in this section might sound familiar to you because they are quoted in the New Testament.
-The picture that is being drawn here is entering into the temple where the presence of God was for the Jews to go worship. The psalmist tells the gatekeeper to open the gate and let him in so he can be with God whom he calls his salvation.
-Obviously, we don’t have a temple to go to in order to be in God’s presence, so what is the gate that will bring us to God.
~Jesus Christ is that gate. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin—and the gospel records that the temple veil was torn in two indicating that through Jesus Christ we have direct access to God. No need for a temple or priest. Jesus Christ is the gate. And Jesus says that this gate is narrow—there is no other gate, no other way to access God.
-But Jesus Christ is also the stone the builders rejected that became the cornerstone. It is the most important stone in the building, without which the whole structure would fall.
-If you have ever played Jenga, you know that it is a stack of wooden blocks that you remove one by one, stacking them back on top, trying not to knock the whole structure over. Imagine that in the first play of the game you take the bottom corner piece, it most likely will tumble immediately.
-Jesus is the cornerstone without which nothing will stand strong. He alone is the way of salvation. He alone is your access to heaven. He alone has provided your means of eternal life. Your whole existence will crumble into eternal misery without Him. This is the greatest of God’s works. And, then, finally:

D) God is our light in darkness (vv. 26-29)

READ PSALM 118:26-29
Psalm 118:26–29 ESV
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar! 28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. 29 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
-In the past there may have been times in our life where we were confused and we could not see the path that our life was heading toward—but God through His Word and through His Spirit guided us exactly where we needed to be----not necessarily where we wanted to go, but always where He had wanted us.
-We are reminded that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. We may have big life choices ahead of us, or there may be a tough decision coming our way.
~We remember times in the past where God illuminated our way, guided our feet, nudged us in a certain direction, whether we were conscious of it or not.
~And knowing that God guided us before, we know that He will do the same again. He is sovereign. He has control of our life. We need not fret or worry, because His light will light our way.
-We are promised in Isaiah 30:21
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. (Isa. 30:21 ESV)

Conclusion

-And maybe this testimony of the psalmist brought to remembrance your own testimony—you recognize how God helped you in distress, was your refuge against enemies, how He saved you in Christ, and how He enlightened your path.
-Maybe it has been a long time since you have given Him thanks for His constant faithfulness in your life. Today, why don’t you come to the altar and give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.
-But maybe today you need help in distress or refuge from enemies or light in your darkness—come to the altar and ask God to do those works in your life, or to help you trust Him—ask Him to help you with your unbelief
-But maybe you have never accepted the salvation He offers—I’ll be down front here and will tell you about the gate through which you can access God, the cornerstone that holds it all together, Jesus Christ…
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more