Sermon Notes and Audio
Scripture Focus- Psalm 118
Jesus commanded the church to make disciples. As a church we want to carry out the mission of Jesus in the world, and make disciples as a church. So we have worked to develop a clear, and focused framework for that.
The Vision Statement of Cross Lanes Baptist Church is:
“Growing God’s Forever Family” John 15:5
Worship- Small Group- Ministry- Mission
Worship is Knowing God. . .Worship is Making God Known
This is an especially rich Psalm. It was a Psalm for festive corporate worship as they journeyed on pilgrimage. It divides into two halves. From vv1-18 the people are on a pilgrimage toward Jerusalem for one of the great feasts. From vv19-29, the people have arrived at the temple, and their worship continues.
It is not certain who wrote this Psalm or when it was written. I think it is likely it is David as King communicating his experience with God. The Prophet Jeremiah in confinement before Jerusalem was destroyed, was given a prophecy that even though Jerusalem and the cities of Judah would be destroyed, God would restore His people. The prophecy in Jeremiah 33 cited Psalm 118 in part. Later, when the Jews were coming back to the land after exile, the singers sang a version of Psalm 118, recorded in Ezra 3.
It is part of a group of Psalms from 113-118 known as the Hallel (Praise). They would sing Psalm 113-114 before the Passover meal and Psalm 115-118 after the meal. The Exodus and Passover pictured God’s salvation of His people, physically from slavery, and spiritually from sin. As the last song after the Passover meal, this would have been the last song Jesus sang with the disciples before He made His way out to the Garden of Gethsemane. The Gospel accounts of Palm Sunday and the Passion Week cite Psalm 118 in reference to Jesus.
Peter used Psalm 118 and v22 when preaching to the Jewish Sanhedrin after the resurrection.
Acts 4:11-12 This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.
Psalm 118 is a song of thanksgiving to God for His salvation. It focuses on deliverance from physical enemies, and can be applied spiritually to God saving us from sin and bringing us into His family.
We are created for worship. Sin is the destroyer of worship because it causes us to rebel and go our own way rather than following God. “Christianity is the transformation of rebels into worshipers of God.” (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology- Worship)
How is the steadfast love of God life changing, and how does it bring people to become worshipers of God?
1.Believers are saved by the steadfast love of God.
The opening and concluding verses of this Psalm are the same-
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.
Three groups are called on to repeat the words- His faithful love endures forever- v2 Israel as a nation; v3 the House of Aaron the priests; and v4 those who personally believed and followed- Those who fear the Lord.
The entire Psalm has as its foundation the blessing of God’s salvation- vv14, 15, 21, and v25- LORD, save us!
The name of Jesus means- “God is salvation.”
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.
Jesus came as God in the flesh. He identified with us, being tempted at every point as we are, yet without sin. Why did Jesus die for us? Because we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Our sin separates us from God who is holy. No amount of human goodness can gain us entrance into Heaven.
1 John 4:8-10 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
How deep and wide is the love of God?
The love of God calls- pursues- and saves people in Jesus.
God is seeking worshipers. He loves people He has created and saves them because He loves them.
To worship God, you have to meet God.
Sporting events of different types, are familiar to people from all nations and cultures. In the ancient world, Olympic Games were held and people would come from all over the known world. The main attractions, were foot races of different lengths. The Bible compares the Christian life to a race. There are a couple of things implied by the comparison of a race. What is implied by comparing the Christian life to a race, is there is a starting line, and a finish line in the race.
In this life, there is a starting line to the Christian faith, when a person comes to faith in Jesus, and becomes a part of God’s Family, the Church. There will be a finish line to our journey on this earth when we go to be in the presence of the Lord.
2. Believers are sustained by the steadfast love of God.
V5 I called to the LORD in distress. . . the LORD answered me and put me in a spacious place.
The Psalmist was in distress. His enemies opposed him. The imagery is used of the nations surrounding him like a swarm of bees. The enemies were pushing him. So he sought after the LORD. God uses the experiences of life to draw us close to Him. When things are going well, we tend to forget how dependent we are on God. So challenges cause us to continually seek God.
James Boice (Psalms, Baker, 3:963-964) tells of how three Protestant martyrs in France relied on Psalm 118 as they faced execution. Louis Rang, a Huguenot pastor, was condemned to die in Grenoble in 1745. He was offered life if he would renounce his faith, but he rejected the offer. He was led to the scaffold singing a French version of Psalm 118:24 translated- Here now is the happy day for which we have been waiting. Sing praise to God who gives us joy and pleasures unabating.
A few weeks later, another Huegenot pastor, Jacque Roger, also strengthened himself with this verse. He was 70 years old and had escaped his enemies for nearly 40 years. He spent his last days in prison encouraging other pastors to remain true to the faith. As he was led to his execution, he also sang the same verse that Louis Rang had sung just weeks before.
The last of the Huegenot martyrs in France was Francois Rochette, who died in 1762, 17 years after Rang and Roger. He too was offered freedom if he renounced his faith. He too refused. He also mounted the scaffold singing, Here now is the happy day for which we have been waiting.
We may not experience this level of suffering but we all face trials in our faith. Yet we are sustained by the steadfast love of God. When we call on the LORD in prayer, He hears and answers us.
V8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
The depth of your knowing God after you are saved will be determined by the time you spend in Prayer and the Word, which will transform how you worship God in your life. Someone said “the Gospel brings man to God; devotion keeps him close to God.”
Life is Worship- Spiritual> Family> Vocation
James 4:8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people!
Sadly, many professing believers are satisfied with a surface level faith.
In 1889, American journalist and humorist Edgar Nye introduced the phrase “A mile wide and an inch deep.” He was referring to a river found in the Midwestern and western United States, called the Platte River. The Platte is a muddy, wide, shallow, meandering stream with a swampy bottom. These characteristics made it too difficult to ever be used as a major navigation route. Though the Platte is an important tributary system in the Missouri River Watershed, it was disqualified from use because of its lack of depth. Nye wrote that the river “had a very large circulation, but very little influence. It covers a good deal of ground, but it is not deep. In some places it is a mile wide and three-quarters of an inch deep.” And so the phrase was born. It’s not meant to be a compliment. In fact, it quickly began to be used in politics, academia, and other fields to describe people whose knowledge is superficial. Brandon Hatmaker, A Mile Wide (Nelson Books, 2016), page xi
In the last 7 days, how many days did you come before the Lord to pray, and to read His Word?
Devotion= a feeling of strong love or loyalty: the quality of being devoted; the use of time, money, energy for a particular purpose. Prayer and Reading the Bible are daily expressions of devotion to God that lead to a life of devotion. Jesus modeled this for us.
These are the basics-
Plans are readily available. Could be reading through a chapter of Proverbs and a Psalm a day along with an OT chapter and a NT chapter as you work your way through the Bible.
The goal is to draw near to God, as God draws near to you. When you draw near to God your devotion will inform, shape, and direct your life.
Your Christian life is no more sincere, or effective, than your time in the Word and Prayer are.
To worship God you have to walk with God.
3. Believers will be safely delivered home by the steadfast love of God.
The steadfast love of God fills us with joy.
V14 The LORD is my strength and my song. . .
This verse is taken from the Song of Moses (Exodus 15:2), sung by Israel after the Lord destroyed Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea. All through the Old Testament, the Exodus is looked back to as the supreme example of God saving His people. When you rely on God to save you from your sin, He becomes your joy, and your song.
V15 There are shouts of joy and victory. . .
V19 Open the gates of righteousness for me; I will enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.
The ultimate gates we will enter through will be the gates of Heaven in the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Revelation 21:21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. . .25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
When we trust in Jesus, God clothes us in righteousness, so that we can enter His holy presence.
This world and its history are prelude and foretaste; all the sunrises and sunsets, symphonies and rock concerts, feasts and friendships are but whispers. They are a prologue to the grander story and an even better place. Only there, it will never end. J. I. Packer said it so well: “Hearts on earth say in the course of a joyful experience, ‘I don’t want this ever to end.’ But it invariably does. The hearts in heaven say, ‘I want this to go on forever.’ And it will. There can be no better news than this.” Steve DeWitt, Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything (Credo House Publishers, 2012), page 168
The steadfast love of God means that we will experience joy eternally, and escape suffering eternally. Nothing is greater, or more stable and lasting than the steadfast love of God.
V24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
God is the most joyous being in the universe. When we worship Him, and experience His steadfast love, He is our joy.
Dallas Willard the Philosopher/Professor, shared a story of when he was teaching in South Africa some time ago …. a young man took him out to see the beaches near his home in Port Elizabeth. He said he was totally unprepared for the experience. He had seen beaches, or so he thought.
“When we came over the rise where the sea and land opened up to us, I stood in stunned silence and then slowly walked toward the waves. Words cannot capture the view that confronted me ….
[I realized] that God sees this all the time. He sees it, experiences it, knows it from every possible point of view, this and billions of other scenes like and unlike it, in this and billions of other worlds. Great tidal waves of joy must constantly wash through his being.
We pay a lot of money to get a tank with a few tropical fish in it and never tire of looking at their [beauty] and marvelous forms and movements. But God has seas full of them, which he constantly enjoys …. We are enraptured by a well-done movie sequence or by a few bars from an opera or lines from a poem. We treasure our great experiences for a lifetime, and we may have very few of them. But he is simply one great inexhaustible and eternal experience of all that is good and true and beautiful and right ….”
Willard concludes, “All of the good and beautiful things from which we occasionally drink tiny droplets of soul-exhilarating joy, God continuously experiences in all their breadth and depth and richness.”
Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (HarperOne, 1998), pp. 62-64