Psalm 22

In our last message on Psalm 22 we talked about the loneliness Jesus experienced on the cross and today we will think about the cruel mocking; the ridicule, the scoffing, jeering or hate speech.

We are using PSALM 22 in our communion services and today we are on verses 12-13…NIV

Many bulls surround Me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle Me.

Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.

Introduction

[1] David wrote this Psalm 1,000 years before Christ was crucified and yet it is the most graphic description of a crucifixion in the bible, history.

[2] David wrote this Psalm over 600 years before crucifixion even existed. Crucifixion was invented by the Persians between 300-400 years before Christ and the Romans picked it up and perfected it because it was such a deterrent to crime and rebellion. It was a slow death by torture.

[3] This Psalm is not about David. Whereas it is true that David suffered, he did not suffer what is described in this Psalm. No one has, other than Jesus.

I want to read the text again, this time in the NLT…

My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls; fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!
Like lions they open their jaws against me, roaring and tearing into their prey.

We are all going to die, some of us sooner than others and I don’t know about you but I want to be surrounded but not by my enemies. I want to be surrounded by love ones and friends. The atmosphere in which Jesus suffered and died was hostile; yea even cruel.

Jesus was loved in Galilee but hated in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was home to the Jewish religious establishment. The Pharisees were the middle and higher middle class. They were devout in their religion but they loved money and the praise of men. Jesus had some converts among them but not many. Above them was the ruling class, the elites, the Sadducees. They were more political than spiritual. They controlled the wealth {all were filthy rich}, the priesthood, the temple and the Sanhedrin. They had tremendous power. They practiced the golden rule, he who has the gold rules.

Jesus was not popular among the Pharisees but the Sadducees hated Him and wanted Him dead. This group had no scruples, no convictions, no mercy and no conscience. They were ruthless.

When Jesus entered the city on passion week, He knew He was walking into the jaws of the lion. Incredibly, Jesus did not flinch. He knew what would happen and yet He did not fear.

The physical agony that Jesus endured on the cross if far more than I can imagine. The Romans knew how to drive the nails through the nerves. Nerve pain is excruciating. It shoots fire all over the body. I had a cortisone shoot in the heal about 25 years ago and I screamed; everyone in the clinic heard me. The first thing that popped into my mind after the shoot was over was Jesus agony on the cross.

But that is only one aspect of His suffering: he was surrounded by scoffers and haters. They came to enjoy, to celebrate His suffering. They laughed at Him, mocked Him, ridiculed Him.

Today we stop and pause: remembering His death, His agony, His suffering and all the horrible abuse He took for oursakes.

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying,

 “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying,

“Drink from it, all of you. [pause] This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Redeemed–how I love to proclaim it!

Redeemed by the blood of the LAMB!

Redeemed through His infinite mercy,

His child, and forever, I am.

Benediction

May The Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord make his face shine on you  and be gracious to you;
May the Lord turn his face toward you  and give you peace
.

Psalm 51

A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me
.
Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise.
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Introduction

This is the fourth of David’s seven penitential Psalms {6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143}. This particular one is in reference to David adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. It is recorded in I Kings 15:5, “During his life time, king David did what pleased the LORD, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.” [Obviously the murder was worse than the adultery] It is interesting to me that we find this entry in Matthew genealogy of Jesus…Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.

There is no question Uriah suffered the greatest injustice. Most men would prefer you take their wife over their life. You could give the wife back but you cannot give a life back once it is taken. The guilt that tormented David was the murder of Uriah.

I may not get beyond the introduction tonight because I am convinced that Bathsheba was complicit in this affair. There is no evidence that this was rape. I’ve heard preachers say, “Bathsheba was innocent because David was the king and he could not be denied.” That makes absolutely no sense. By nature, women are always ahead of men. Men don’t think–David saw, he wanted and took but he did not think. It was the spur of the moment, a spontaneous response for David. Women are thinkers {I am being nice}: they calculate, they plan; I will not say connive but I will say this– they know how to formulate a plan and then work the plan. They usually get what they want. Men are at a disadvantage and it shows.

When a woman baths in the nude on her back porch while your neighbor who just happens to be a man, is talking a walk on his penthouse roof which is clearly visible, it might be intentional. Men are visually stimulated and trust me, she stimulated David. If it had not been consensual, she would have hated David, right women? She would have loathed him which means she would never have let him known that he got her pregnant. You’ll never convince me that she went into his bed chamber without the intention of getting pregnant. Now David did commit the murder, but again, if Bathsheba was madly in love with Uriah, she would have despised David for murdering her husband. David acted out of lust; Bathsheba out of ambition. She wanted a son on the throne and she got it. So David does the dirty work, gets rid of Uriah and he takes the fall [blame]. But it takes two to tango.

One other introductory note before we get started. Most commentaries state that it was a year or more before Nathan confronted David. There is no doubt that David’s conscience was tormenting him but he may have thought that what he had done could be keep secret. If the preacher, everyone knows. The confrontation probably embarrassed David but it broke the ice and the confessions began to roll. WHEN IT COMES TO THEOLOGY: Psalm 51 is a masterpiece. Say whatever you like about David’s sin: God used this man in an incredible way.

One other thing: don’t despise David for his massive moral mistake {sin}. It could happen to you if you were in the same situation {power and opportunity}. Until these two converge, you have no really been tempted.

The First Thing I want To Address is THE BASIS OF OUR FORGIVENESS

I love the way the NLT translates verse one…Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion. Other translation use the word ‘according,’ the NASB reads, Be gracious to me, O God, according to your loving-kindness, according the greatness of Your compassion. Why does God forgive our Sin? It is because of who HE IS. He is merciful and compassionate. He is not only merciful and compassionate the word “Greatness” is throw in to modify his Mercy and Compassion. This same word is used in Genesis 16 when the Angel tells Hagar, “Do as I say and I will give you more descendants that you can count.” In other words, God Mercy and Compassion is INFINITE. It is so great that we humans can not measure it’s greatness.

Secondly: OUR SINS AND THE METHOD OF OUR FORGIVENESS

Basically, there are three types of sin mentioned in Psalm 51 and three METHODS of forgiveness.

[1] Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins {Transgressions, literally}. A transgression is the violation of the law and is a willful act of rebellion. David knew that what he was doing was against God’s law and he did it anyway…this is transgression. {Wet paint, don’t touch} The remedy for willful acts of sin is to have them “blotted out.” This is an accounting word which means to erase. Wipe away, clean the slate.

[2] The second word for sin is in verse two is INIQUITY. This word means to bend or twist, to pervert or distort. Mankind has mastered the art of perverting the good things that God created: art/porn, music/rock, sex/a hundred different perversions. The remedy for INIQUITY is to be “Washed.” I don’t know about you but when I come in at night, I like a good shower. I’m usually so dirty I use my body wash twice. Even when my hands get dirty during the day, I feel a need to wash. Most of us want to be clean. Of course, we are cleaning the outside and Jesus can wash us from inside out.

[3] The third word for sin is sin. Like it’s NT counterpart, this word means to fall short or to miss the mark. The Remedy is purification or cleansing. This is not a washing of water, but a cleansing of the soul that comes with true confession.

Third: THE NATURE OF SIN

[1] Sin is before us: David was able to recognize his sin and it was haunting him day and night. He had a guilty conscience. Some people are pathological, they have no conscience; others have seared their conscience by repeated rebellion. Thank God for conscience. I rejoice when God convicts me of sin. I am thrilled that He cares enough to speak to me about my sin. I begin everyday {practically} with my QT. I read two devotions, and one Psalm before I do anything else. Sometimes I have to pray as soon as I study my Psalm. I can’t remember a day, lately that God hasn’t convicted me of some sin. Yesterday devotions out of Proverbs was on ranting and I am a ranter. So when we sin, it is against our conscience and this keeps are sin before us. I don’t worry about those who confess sin: I worry about those who don’t.

[2] BUT as David says, Sin is primarily against God. God is the first to feel the brunt of our sin. He is the first to see it. We do our evil in His sight. He usually knows about our sin before we know. When we blatantly sin against God, and all sin is blatant to HIM, we offend His holy nature. Because He is holy and perfectly so, our sin offends Him most. Who took the brunt of our sins? Jesus. All of our sin first and foremast is against HIM.

[3] Sin, all sin has consequences. [Verse 4] What ever God says about our sin is final: whatever the consequences are, they are justified. Thank God David maned up, he didn’t whine about his punishment. He knew that God was just and blameless. DAVID DESERVED DEATH. He was given life but his sin caused the death of the innocent.

Conclusion

This is a good stopping place. We all deserve death and hell but Jesus died in our place. He suffered our hell and death. Our response should be eternal gratitude.

Peace With God

I actually prayed about which translation to use today. I like the NLT, it makes things clear but there are a couple of words I want you to hear and one is the word “wrath.” I am using the NRSV today.

Also listen for the word THROUGH…

Through can be used as a preposition or and adverb. When used as a preposition, it is followed by a noun: in today scripture, the noun is all the spiritual blessing we have in Christ. Everything we have from God comes through the LORD Jesus Christ.

Results of Justification

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast [exult, glory, rejoice] in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Introduction

We have a great text today and I will assure you that we will only scratch the surface and I am not convinced that this sermon is even a scratch.

Paul begins Romans 5 with the word THEREFORE which is a reference to what he has said previously and we do not have to guess at what that was because he re-states it: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith.” I like the way Paul sums up justification in chapter 3 {Romans 3:22-25, NLT}

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. 

Transition

Today, I want to talk to you about the wonderful results of our being justified by the atoning work of Christ.

I. WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD

Man, in his natural state is at war with God. The enmity or hostility is very evident today. This world does not appreciate God’s word. The world didn’t appreciate Jesus. There was an unbelievable hostility toward Christ and it stems from the fact that the world is at war with God. We resist His rule and we ignore His laws.

Luther said…

Luther said, “The justified have peace with God and enmity with the world. The unrepentant have peace with world and enmity with God.”

If a husband and wife are fighting, the solution is a reconciliation.

Look at verse 10…

For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life. 

Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:20…

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.

Now this wonderful peace we have with God is an objective fact; not a subjective feeling. I like the way J.B. Phillips translates verse one…

Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Think of it this way…God the infinite JUDGE has sounded the gavel and declared…All who put their faith in my Son and His atoning blood are declared “Not Guilty.” If God has declared you “Not guilty” because you are in Christ, who is going to overturn that verdict?

When two nations make peace, who declares the peace? Is it not the supreme leader of each nation? For England in WWII, it would be Churchill; for us, it would be our president. Folks God is the Supreme Leader of the Universe, if He declares peace, there is nothing you can do about it. You can continue your fight against His will be it will not change the fact that He had declared all men are justified in His sight when they put their faith in Jesus. PEACE IS A FACT, NOT A FEELING. It becomes a feeling once you trust the fact.

II. WE HAVE JOY IN SUFFERING

I don’t mean joy in suffering itself but joy in the midst of suffering. Look at what Paul says is verses 3-4…

We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

The Greek word that is translated “Boast” here {exult-NASB, rejoice-NLT, glory-NIV} comes from a root word that means to prop up, bolster, brace, make stronger, boost. It us used in a good sense here but early Paul uses the same word to refer to Jewish pride.

Romans 2:23…

You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?

Here Paul is talking about an inter strength that bolster’s our confidence. It is not a boast of the mouth, it is a deep sense of strength that we hve when we accept as a fact that we have peace with God and that he is working all things together for our good and His glory.

What Paul describes here is the process by which we are sanctified…

*Sufferings–The word used here is the common word for suffering, affliction and tribulation. It literally means to be between a rock and a hard place, to be pressed, distressed, in a bind, caught in a narrow straight, no place to turn. H.A. Ironside, “Suffering is the divinely appointed flail that separates the wheat from the chaff.

Suffering leads to Endurance…

*Endurance– one of my favorite Greek words, hypo-mone, a compound word that means to stay under.  Endurance leads to Character.

*Character–who does not want character. If I have to suffer to have character then I will rejoice in my suffering. Character then produces HOPE.

*Hope– does not disappoint us, it never lets us down. In enables us to steady, steadfast and consistent and this leads to love.

Love leads us to our next point…

Talking about results of Justification by faith…

III. WE EXPERIENCE GOD’S LOVE

God pours His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us {Grace}.

The truth I am about to share can change your life. There is really no basis for God’s love other than the character and will of God. God choose to love even before He creates us. Note what Paul says about the LOVE OF GOD…{v.6-8}

6 For while we were still weak {helpless, sick, powerless, impotent, feeble, without strength}, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

God’s love is incredible; there is really no human parallel. You or I might die for a select few but would we be willing to sacrifice our son for anyone? We sure would not consider doing such a thing for a derelict.

John said…

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. He also said, We love because he first loved us.

Earthly and perishable things will never satisfy your hearts deepest desire: only HIS LOVE can accomplish. {Ill. in marriage, our relationship with Christ}. God’s love is like a FOUNTAIN, it springs forth from HIM. It is not called into action by anything you and I do. It is a grace love.

Conclusion

Due to time, I will make my fourth point the conclusion: because we have been justified by the blood of Christ and declared not guilty we are and will be saved from GOD’S WRATH.

Verse 9…

Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through Him from the wrath of God. 

Only Jesus can save you from God’s wrath. The war is real: the world has hostility against God but don’t forget that God is holy and He has hostility toward sin and it will be vented on the unrepentant. {Ill. the Ark}

Hoping Against Hope

Romans 4:16-25

16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.

20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

Introduction

Everything in this passage is vital to our message but we will use verse 18 as a spring board to plunge into the message.

Verse 18…NASB

In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”

Verse 18…NRSV

In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 

How can HOPE be against HOPE? The answer is quite simple: we are talking about two different kinds of hope. Abraham had no HOPE in the flesh but he never gave up HOPE in God’s word {promise}. This means that in the midst of a hopeless situation…Abraham continued to hope. There is a difference in FAITH and HOPE.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is presently active, hope relates to the future. I entered this pulpit by faith: at this very moment, I am acting on faith and my hope is that someone will be blessed. Obviously, if we don’t have faith, we will not have hope.

This is an unorthodoxed sermon: I do not have three points. My aim is to help us understand what verse 18 means.

Begin by looking at two other verses…

Verse 17…

That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

Verse 25…

He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

Abraham believed in a God who could make something out of nothing and bring the dead back to life.

Clearly Paul is alluding to the RESURRECTION and my question was, is this not a different subject? Why did Paul work the RESURRECTION into this conversation? So I asked the LORD to help me understand this. I believe He answered my prayer.

Paul is making a comparison between two hopeless situations:

FIRST ABRAHAM’S SITUATION

The LORD gave Abraham his name {Genesis 17:5} “Father of many nations.” [Abram, father of many] The LORD also lead him to a strange land, Canaan, located in the crescent of the middle east. Abraham was situated on the trade routes from north to south and east to west. He ran a trading post or a camel stop. He saw new faces practically everyday.

Using our imagination: let’s think about what could have happened.

Trader: “Now your name is Abraham; what exactly does that mean?

Abraham: “Abram means father of many and then God changed it to Abraham which means father of many nations.”

Trader: “Very interesting, how many sons do you have?”

Abraham: “I don’t have any.”

Trader: “You name is father of many and you don’t have any. How in the world are you going to become the father of many nations when you don’t even have a son?”

Abraham:I don’t know how God is going to do it but I believe He will.

Trader: “You are getting on up in years aren’t you?

Abraham: “Yes I am close to a hundred and my wife is ninety.”

Trader: “And yet you believe this invisible God of yours is going to give you many sons?”

Abraham: “Yes I do. My descendants will be so many that they cannot be counted, like the stars in the heavens.”

Trader: Man you are crazy. What are you basing this incredible faith on?

Abraham: “God word…God made me a promise and I believe He will keep it.”

Trader: “Look around you: you have no sons. How can you believe in such a promise?”

Abraham: You are looking at my situation but that is not my focus. My focus is on the One who can make something out of nothing: He can even raise the dead. When God says it is so, I believe it is so, even though in the present, it is not so, I believe it will be so because God said so.”

So Abraham hoped against hope. He hoped against reason and logic. He continued to hope although the world around had no such hope. His hope was not in the flesh; not in worldly wisdom, not in circumstances–His hope was in God.

FACE FORWARD 2000 YEARS

THE DISCIPLES SITUATION

Now I want you to imagine being one of the disciples at the crucifixion. You talk about hopelessness, which of these followers had hope? None! Even Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to see a dead body. The disciples on the road to Emmaus are typical. They were hopeless. The crucifixion was horrible. At the moment, no one could see any good in it or any possibility that good could come from it. It was a dark and dismal day: a crushing blow to the faith of the disciples.

Yet, God transformed the most horrible day in human history into the most glorious day in history. Only God could do such a thing.

OUR SITUATION

June had a conversation with a clerk at one of our groceries stores last Thursday. She was distressed about the Governor’s edict and the mandatory mask. She said, “I am tired of the whole mess and I am ready for the LORD to take me home.” I think she summed up the sentiments of a lot of Christians. We do live in trying times. I understand that we are not suffering like those in China and North Korea but we are spoiled and the current crisis has frustrated our plans. Now it may get worse before it gets better but the good news is: this is not the final chapter. Jesus is coming back again as the LION of Judah and every knee will bow and every tongue confess. They will not be any mass protest, no brick throwing: every human will tremble in awe and respect for Jesus. There will be no skirmish, no resistance: once the LION of Judah roars, the world will become mute. The tongues of men will be silenced.

Remember the words of our LORD…Let not your hearts be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me.

When Worship Is Wrong

Psalm 50

A psalm of Asaph.

The Lord, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken; he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets.
From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance.

Our God approaches, and He is not silent. Fire devours everything in His way, and a great storm rages around him.
He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of his people.
“Bring my faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
Then let the heavens proclaim His justice, for God Himself will be the judge. 

“O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God!
I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.
10 For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.
13 Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats?
14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
15 Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

16 But God says to the wicked: “Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant?
17 For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.
18 When you see thieves, you approve of them, and you spend your time with adulterers.
19 Your mouth is filled with wickedness, and your tongue is full of lies.
20 You sit around and slander your brother—your own mother’s son.
21 While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care. But now I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against you.
22 Repent, all of you who forget me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will help you.
23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

Introduction

I mentioned last week that Psalm 50, like 49 was about STEWARDSHIP. Whereas it does contain some great stewardship verses {v.10-12} and verse 12 teaches DIVINE OWNERSHIP..,If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. The Psalm is more about worship.

Actually, the picture painted by the Asaph [a worship leader] is that of a COURTROOM. God has summons all humanity to stand before Him, the judge. The LORD is bringing charges against the people of the world and He begins with His people, the Israelites.

Pick up with verse 4…

He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of His people.
“Bring My faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
Then let the heavens proclaim His justice, for God Himself will be the judge. 

“O My people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God!
I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.
10 For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.
13 Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats?

The obvious answer is NO! God takes no delight in the blood of animals. This is not what worship is about. The Israelites have misunderstood the type. They are worshiping worship, the ritual aspect, the ceremony. They have lost their focus on the purpose of the ritual and ceremony.

So the CHARGE, the indictment concerns their half-hearted worship. The problem is not in their sacrifices as such or in their consistency to bring them. They have totally misunderstood the purpose. They are merely going through the motions but their focus is not on God.

Isaiah 29:13…

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

Have you ever been engaged in a conversation and the person you are speaking with is losing their attention. They are standing or sitting at arms length but their mind is a drifting away. We humans are easily distracted. We have a hard time maintaining focus.

Worship is not what we have made it out to be; it is not three songs, an offering, a prayer, a solo and a sermon. We can do all these things and not worship. Worship is an encounter with the Living God, something similar to what Isaiah experience in the Temple…

Isaiah 6:1-5

 It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
    The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

Isaiah not only saw the LORD, he saw himself, his sin. The presence of God made him aware of his undoneness. I am not a fancy dresser. I go for comfort mostly and of course I want to be decent but I do not wear expensive clothes. While I was in Seminary, I did a youth revival in Marks, Mississippi. We started on Wednesday night and went through Sunday night. The young man who lead the praise and worship was a local kid and the son of one of those wealthy delta farmers. He looked like he was a fashion model for a men’s store. Silk tie, patent leather shoes, the whole nine yards. I knew I did not look great but this boy made me self-conscience. I tried to improve as the week went on but I could not compete. I had one pair of shoes, he wore a new pair every night. The harder I tried, the greater the disparity seemed to be. He had me feeling tacky.

Have you every wondered what it would be like to be on the stage with Jesus? To be standing along side perfection. It would be humiliating for me. The presence of God became so real to Isaiah that he saw God’s holiness and once he saw God’s holiness, he saw his sin. This lead to repentance and commitment. This is real worship: when we lose ourselves in HIM. How many times do we enter the place of worship without sensing the presence of the LORD, seeing our sinfulness, repenting and making a life changing commitment to God.

The best NT examples are all women; and it is possible that all of them were named Mary.

Luke 10…

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Mark 14…

Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

This woman, whoever she was, was criticized severely for what she did. The room was filled with men and they didn’t appreciate what she had done but Jesus did… and He told them to leave her alone. Do you see the difference between these men and this lady. One big difference. She was focused on Jesus. She didn’t even see them. She was not trying to please them. They were focused on her past, and the waste of the perfume. She was focused on Jesus: she worshiped, they didn’t.

Mary Magdalene {John 20} at the cemetery. She came to anoint the lifeless body of Jesus. She was locked in to seeing His body. She had supported His ministry financially but that was not enough. She loved Jesus. She was heart broken over the way He had been treated and she thought that last thing she could do for Him was give him a proper burial. She didn’t trust what the men had done. Her focus was Jesus. Nothing else, just Jesus. She was not looking for angels, for an experience of seeing a bright light, only one thing would satisfy her…Jesus.

Folks, when we get locked in like Mary, we will worship. You will not have to worry about finding Him, He will find you if you have the heart of Mary.

Justification By Faith Alone

Abraham Justified by Faith

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed [in Yahweh] God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” [Genesis 15:6]

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”

Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Introduction

Let’s begin by briefly touching the high points…

[1] All men are sinners, hopelessly depraved

[2] People are not saved by being good/righteous/keeping the law/being a Jew/Circumcision.

[3] People are made right with God {Justified} when they put their faith in Jesus. Romans 3:25...People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. 

[4] Salvation is a work of GRACE…something God does for us…We have every right to praise Him and no right to boast…Salvation cannot be earned

NOTE PAUL’S TWO EXAMPLES: Abraham and David

[1] Abraham was not saved by obeying the LAW {morality}, the law came 600 years later. He was not saved by being circumcised{religious ritual}: God gave him credit for being righteous before his circumcision [13 years].

[2] David certainly was not saved by keeping the law. He openly violated the law. God anointed David to write these words…

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”

The two brightest stars in the Hebrew heavens were saved by GRACE.

THE JEWS OF JESUS DAY WERE NOTHING LIKE ABRAHAM OR DAVID

John 8:56

Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

In Matthew 22 Jesus gets in a discussion with the Pharisees over David. Is the Messiah David’s son Jesus asked: they said “yes.” Then Jesus said, “Why did David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit refer then to the Messiah as LORD?”

The Jews didn’t rejoice to see Jesus nor would they call him LORD. Paul’s argument, “You worship Abraham, claim to be his sons, but you are nothing life him nor are you like David.”

Is your perception of who you are true/accurate. The Jews thought they were like Abraham but they had a false perception of themselves.

EVERY RELIGION IN THE WORLD TEACHES SALVATION BY WORKS

If you were the devil and you wanted to damn as many as possible: what doctrine would you corrupt? Would it not be salvation?

[1] Salvation by works appeals to man’s pride and vanity.

[2] Salvation by works robs God of His glory.

[3] Salvation by works eliminates Faith and mocks Grace.

[4] Salvation by works makes Christ death vain/senseless

Conclusion

For several years we did the FAITH PRESENTATION of the gospel. The KEY question is: “In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes to go to heaven.” More than 9 out of 10 will give you a works answer.

You can say what you want about the devil but he is good at what he does, which is to deceive people. That is why many will be shocked when judgment comes. Standing before Christ, they will give a works answer…it is recorded in Matthew 7

‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 

Did you catch, “Did we not”. They built their assurance on what they did in His name.

Salvation is a gift that receive by faith. It can never be earned.

Stewardship

Psalm 49

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world,
both low and highrich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me—[evil/malice dogs me, snipping at my heels] New Jerusalem Bible
those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?
No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever and not see decay.
10 For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves.

12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning). Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.

20 People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.

Introduction

[1] First of all, the MESSAGE in this Psalm which is like a Proverb [word of wisdom] is for EVERYONE [Whole world–Jew and Gentile–High and Low–Rich and Poor. Poor people are tempted by greed–don’t kid yourself.

[2] The MESSAGE is a WARNING to those who put their trust in riches. There is a lot about death in the Psalm but this Psalm is not about death; it is about being deceived, conned or duped by riches.

[3] MONEY has A HUGE and POWERFUL influence. You can float in space but once you get into the gravitation pull of the earth, you are coming down. The world with it’s praise for riches will pull you down. Verses 16-18

Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them. Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper.

Transition

The author of this Psalms appeals to our common sense. There are some things that we need to meditate on, to think about.

I. WEALTH CANNOT PREVENT DEATH

No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—
8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever and not see decay.

[1] Wealth cannot prevent sickness

[2] Wealth cannot prevent drug abuse or solve it

[3] Wealth cannot buy you love nor happiness

There are probably a thousand other things that riches cannot do but it certainly will not prevent or delay your death. Everyone dies, rich or poor, high or low…no exceptions.

II. WEALTH CANNOT SECURE YOUR FUTURE

Financial security is a myth: there is no such thing. The greatest fool on earth is the person who believes in financial security. The story in Luke 12 about the Rich Fool is proof that it does not exist.

Just use your common sense: if someone or something does not give you power over death, you have no future. Death is the problem that has to be solved and money doesn’t solve it.

Although money is useful here and now: money as we know it doesn’t have a future. No matter how much you have, you cannot carry it beyond the grave.

Verse 10

For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.

III. WEALTH CANNOT ENHANCE YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

To the contrary, those who yield to the temptation to trust in money/riches/wealth become like the beast in their behavior. This is one of the pitfall of greed. The two great commandments are [1] to love God with all your heart and [2] to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.

Both the Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes were lovers of money. They would foreclose on a widow, put her in the streets. They refused to take care of their elderly parents. The Sadducees were so corrupt, so greedy that they turned worship into a money making scheme. This why Jesus cleansed the temple: they were cheating people right and left. They wouldn’t take Roman currency, they charged fees to convert the money, they also decided which animals were fit for sacrifice and they rejected animals that were fit so that people were forced to buy animals from them. They had turned the temple into a stock yard and a bank. They were making money hand over fist and doing it at the expense of hardworking, God fearing people.

Why would one Jew treat a fellow Jew like that? GREED, the love of money had turned them into beast, they were dog eat dog. When you care more about money than you do people, you have a problem.

God Has Blessed America

85 Lord, you have poured out amazing blessings on this land! You have restored the fortunes of Israel, and forgiven the sins of your people—yes, covered over each oneso that all your wrath, your blazing anger, is now ended.

Now bring us back to loving you, O Lord, so that your anger will never need rise against us again. (Or will you be always angry—on and on to distant generations?) Oh, revive us! Then your people can rejoice in you againPour out your love and kindness on us, Lord, and grant us your salvation.

I am listening carefully to all the Lord is saying—for he speaks peace to His people, His saints, if they will only stop their sinning. 9 Surely His salvation is near to those who reverence him; our land will be filled with his glory.

10 Mercy and truth have met together. Grim justice and peace have kissed! 11 Truth rises from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven.

12 Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings on the land, and it yields its bountiful crops. 13 Justice goes before him to make a pathway for his steps.

Introduction

This Psalm written in connection to the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon. It begins with thanksgiving and praise but becomes a prayer, a very good prayer. Oliver Cromwell was so moved by this Psalm that he made it a prayer for England.

As I read it this week {TLB} in my devotional time, the first line really caught my attention…YOU have poured out amazing blessings on this land! I know that this Psalm was about Israel but we here in the USA could and should confess that God has poured out His blessings on America [in an unprecedented way}. I know it is not politically correct to say that GOD HAS BLESSED AMERICA but it is true. How else can you explain the freedom and prosperity we have enjoyed.

GOD HAS BLESSED AMERICA

I am 70 years old and I have lived all 70 years in freedom. Our friends in Eastern Europe lived for 70 years under the oppression of communism. We here do not know what it is like to live in fear of a ruthless tyrant.

I know today is not Thanksgiving but I think we need to stop and give thanks to God for our freedom and or out country. We need to be thankful for our history and heritage. Our founding fathers are taking a pounding from the left today. George Washington has been labeled a racist because he owned slaves–nothing is further from the truth. He loved his slaves and did not allow them to be separated as families. He died in debt because he refused to sell his slaves. America was blessed by Godly and wise founding fathers. I am not ashamed of our history or our heritage: I am thankful. I am telling you GOD HAS BLESSED AMERICA.

WE NEED TO PRAY THE PRAYER

V. 4…Restore us again, God our Savior [TLB} “Bring us back to loving YOU!”

V. 6…Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? This is my prayer today and everyday…revive us again…fill each heart with Your love…May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.

–Pour out Your Spirit

–Awaken Your People

–Revive Your Work

–Manifest Your Glory

–Prosper Your Word

–Glorify Your Son

A WORD OF HOPE

I don’t know who wrote this Psalm, who it was that prayed this prayer, but some years later, God answered the prayer. The REVIVAL came under the leadership of Nehemiah and Ezra.

[1] Word was proclaimed

[2] Prayer was made

[3] Confession of sin

[4] Passion to Obey

[5] God manifested His glory

Prayer fulfilled in Jesus

Love and faithfulness {truth} meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Psalm 48

Psalm 48

A song. A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

How great is the Lord, how deserving of praise,
in the city of our God, which sits on his holy mountain!

It is high and magnificent; the whole earth rejoices to see it! Mount Zion, the holy mountain, is the city of the great King!
God himself is in Jerusalem’s towers, revealing himself as its defender.

The kings of the earth joined forces and advanced against the city.
But when they saw it, they were stunned; they were terrified and ran away.
They were gripped with terror and writhed in pain like a woman in labor.
You destroyed them like the mighty ships of Tarshish shattered by a powerful east wind.

We had heard of the city’s glory, but now we have seen it ourselves— the city of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. It is the city of our God; He will make it safe forever. 

O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple.
10 As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth. Your strong right hand is filled with victory.
11 Let the people on Mount Zion rejoice. Let all the towns of Judah be glad because of your justice.

12 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers.
13 Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations.
14 For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.

Introduction

Before we read the Psalm tonight, we want to do a little back ground. Approximately 700 years before Christ, Sennacherib, king of Assyria invaded the land of Judah, subjugating most of the cities but when he got to Jerusalem, he was unable to take it. The Assyrians were fierce warriors, blood thirsty barbarians would be a better description. They did not just kill and destroy, they tortured their opponents before they allowed them to die. The thought of facing the Assyrians, struck fear into hearts.

Jerusalem in a walled city and located on the crest of a mountain. It was not an easy city to conquer. Sennacherib began with a propaganda campaign; he tried to undermine the citizens confidence in their leader Hezekiah and in God Himself. As you may or may not recall, Sennacherib failed to take the city. He actually never shot the first arrow over the wall. The Angel of the LORD paid a visit to his camp and killed 185,000 soldiers in one night. Sennacherib was devastated and returned to Assyria in shame and disgrace. A couple of months later, two of his sons assassinated him while he was at his temple to pray to his god with a little g. Three Psalms were written to Praise God for this great victory.

I.

So before we read the Psalm: Note this is a Praise Psalm {song} celebrating this unbelievable victory.

[read the Psalm]

II.

The second thing I want you to notice is the repeated us of the word CITY. Six times if I counted properly. Notice the adjectives used to describe the city…

—verse 2–High and magnificent, the whole world rejoices to see it!

—verse 8–The city of glory and security

—verse 12–The strength of the city

III.

Since it is a Psalm of PRAISE, you see the emphasis on praise…

—Verse 1…How great is the LORD…How deserving of praise

—Verse 10…As Your name deserves O God, You will be praised to the ends of the earth.

We praise God for…

[1] God’s Awesome Power–[v.7]like a storm destroying the mighty ships of Tarshish.

[2] God’s Unfailing Love—[v.9]

[3] For the Victory He gives—[v.10]

[4] God is faithful and immutable—[v.14]

Transition

This is a quick overview of the Psalm, not let me give you some lessons to take with you.

1. WE DO NOT WORSHIP PLACES–CITIES OR TEMPLES. The Jews were tempted to worship the shadow and ignore the substance or the reality. We do not worship buildings, statues, edifices of any kind, this is idolatry. We worship God in Spirit and Truth. We worship a PERSON, not a place.

2. WE ARE TO CELEBRATE OUR VICTORIES. Nothing wrong with praising God for the good things He does. The Angels in heaven celebrate when one sinner repents. The Prodigal Father celebrates.

3. OUR FOCUS IN NOT ON GOD’S GIFTS OR BLESSINGS [Cities, buildings, temples, etc] BUT ON HIS PRESENCE. The glory of Jerusalem in not it its appearance: there is glory in it’s past and future. Mt Zion is where Abraham worshiped with Issac. It is where David brought the Ark of the Covenant, a symbol of God’s presence. It is where Solomon built the Temple. It is where Jesus died for our sins. Jerusalem, apart from Christ is just an ancient with with a lot of rocks and mortar. Jerusalem has no sky scrappers, no shopping malls, no sub-ways. It is nothing like Istanbul, New York or London. No parks, gardens, manicured lawns. You will see very few trees and very little grass. Mostly stone, dirt and mortar.

If I were to live in Israel, Galilee would be my choice hands down. They have vegetation, beautiful green mountains and lush green valleys. You will see none of this any where near Jerusalem.

The glory is not in the city itself. Jesus in the city, that was glory. Jesus in the Temple, that was glory. But in the temple and city alone, there is no glory.

Old Preachers Version of Burning Bush

Moses: “Wow, look at that bush!”

God: “Look closer, it is not the bush, it is MY glory on the bush.” Look over there Moses [other direction]…what do you see?

Moses…I see a bush

God…Look in the other direction and what do you see?

Moses…just an old bush.

God…That right Moses, just a bush. It is not the bush, it is my glory on the bush, any old bush will do!