Sermon Notes and Audio
Scripture Focus- Psalm 97
There are 7.381 billion people in the world – 2 billion are Christians, including Cultural Christians. Missiologists estimate there are perhaps closer to 1 billion who are born again Christians. The need is great to reach people with the Gospel. With the overwhelming needs, it would be easy for us to get overwhelmed, or focus our efforts in ways that may not be of maximum effectiveness. Let’s learn from Psalm 97 why we do what we do in missions.
Missions exists for the glory of our great God. He is great and worthy to be known and made known down the street and around the world. Worship is the ultimate goal because God is ultimate, not people. When this world as we know it is over, and we are in the eternal age, countless numbers of the redeemed will fall on their faces before the throne of God to give Him glory and missions will be over. Worship will abide forever. It has been said that worship is the fuel for missions. If a passion for the glory of God is weak, missions will be weak.
V6 The heavens proclaim His righteousness; all the peoples see His glory.
We don’t know who wrote Psalm 97. Some think it was David. Some think it was written when the exiles returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. It is in the middle of Psalms 93-100 that emphasize the majesty of God.
Let the earth rejoice, because of the glory of our great God.
v1 The LORD reigns! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coasts and islands be glad.
The islands represent the remote, furthest places on the earth. There is a mission theme here. Because those who dwell in these remote places cannot be glad in the Lord unless they hear the good news about Jesus. This is the missionary task.
The scene shifts quickly from gladness to a sobering encounter with the presence of God. V2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. 3 Fire goes before Him and burns up His foes on every side. 4 His lightning lights up the world, the earth sees and trembles.
When Israel was at Mt. Sinai in the wilderness (Exodus 19:16-19), Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the base of the mountain. Mt. Sinai was in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire, and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. Moses spoke and God answered him in thunder.
James Boice speaking about the glory of God- “The common lightness of many in approaching God is not a sign of their close acquaintance with him, as they probably suppose, but of the fact that they hardly know God at all.”
The clouds and thick darkness warn of God’s holiness, and the fire and lightning reveals a holiness that is all consuming. There is no escaping Him. V5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord- at the presence of the Lord of all the earth. When God comes in judgment, no enemy will escape. He will judge the whole world in righteousness and defeat every enemy. The absolute sovereignty of God over all things should bring gladness and confidence in who God is and what He has done and will do.
Let those who trust in idols be ashamed, because of the glory of our great God.
v7 All who serve carved images, those who boast in idols, will be put to shame. All the gods must worship Him. They are put to shame, because they have put their trust in and served carved images made with hands, dead and empty idols.
Today people are tempted to put their trust in people, possessions, power, position, and pleasure- if you put your trust in anything except God, it is futility and foolishness.
On Tuesday, September 8th, 2015, a British Airways jet caught fire at the Las Vegas airport, sending smoke billowing into the air, after suffering what the pilot described as a “catastrophic failure” of the left engine. The plane—a Boeing 777 heading from the U.S. city’s McCarran airport to London Gatwick—could be seen with flames around its fuselage.
The pictures of a burning jetliner in Las Vegas were certainly riveting. But as the plane burst into smoke and flames, some observers saw something even more startling: People stopped during their evacuation to grab their luggage. Authorities are certainly concerned about planes that burst into flames, but they’re also worried that we’d risk our lives to grab our carry-on bags.
So what’s the big deal with grabbing one carry-on bag? The FAA requires planes to be evacuated within 90 seconds, but as a Chicago-based air traffic controller wrote: Let’s say the average delay time per bag is 5 seconds. This includes the time needed to reach up to open the overhead compartment, pulling the bag down, and the extra delay hauling it through a crowded aisle. If half of the 170 people on board Flight 2276 took the time to take their bag the evacuation would have taken an additional 7 MINUTES longer than necessary.
Imagine being the last one to exit the smoke-filled cabin knowing that your one minute evac time is now over 7 minutes! One veteran pilot with a major U.S. airline said, “We’re always shaking our head. It doesn’t matter what you say, people are going to do what they do.” Or as one blogger summarized this news story: “People love their carry-ons more than life itself.”
David Finch, Elk Grove, California; sources: Justin Pritchard and Sally Ho, “Vegas Plane Fire Passengers Escaped With Lives—And Bags,” Associated Press (9-12-15); Bob Collins, “People love their carry-ons more than life itself,” NewsCut (9-11-15)
Vv8-9 Zion hears and is glad, and the towns of Judah rejoice because of Your judgments Lord. For You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; You are exalted above all the gods.
God had given victory to Israel, and they rejoiced in those victories. Ultimate fulfillment will be experienced in the return of Jesus Christ who is coming to judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness. The whole earth will recognize that the risen Lord Jesus is the Lord Most High over all the earth.
Ephesians 1:20-23 God demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens- far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.
God’s people should rejoice!
Let those who love Him hate evil and be glad, because of the glory of our great God.
v10 You who love the Lord, hate evil!
There is a command to be followed. It is obvious and apparent. You cannot love God who is holy and at the same time love sin. It is inconsistent and hypocritical to say you love God, and yet you love sin.
Psalm 5:5-6 You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.
The closer you grow to God, the greater your hatred for sin will be. We are continually tempted in this life, but we are called to hate sin and fight against it in the power of God.
God protects and preserves His people. V10b He protects the lives of His godly ones; He rescues them from the hand of the wicked. This implies that hating sin may be costly because it raises the opposition of the wicked.
God gives light to His people. V11 Light dawns for the righteousness, gladness for the upright in heart. God gives light for each step of the way.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
George Stephenson, the inventor of the locomotive engine, was once standing with Dean Buckland, a famous geologist, and others on the terrace of Sir Robert Peel’s mansion at Drayton Manor in England in the 1800s. A train flashed along in the distance, throwing behind it a long trail of white steam. “Now, Dr. Buckland,” said Stephenson, “can you tell me what is the power that is driving that train?” “Well,” said the Dean, “I suppose it is one of your big engines.” “But what drives the engine?” “Oh, very likely a canny driver.”
“What do you say to the light of the sun?” “How can that be?” asked the Dean. “It is nothing else,” replied the engineer. “It is light bottled up in the earth for tens of thousands of years. Now, after being buried in the earth for long ages in the fields of coal, the latent light is again brought forth and liberated; made to work, as in that engine, for great purposes.”
For, since that day, not only has light, produced by the combustion of coal gas, become the chief means of artificial illumination to all civilized nations, it is the pent-up force of the sunbeam locked up in the coal. It drives our motor-cars, and, transformed into heat, generates the power which we transmute again into light in the form of the electric beam. Hundreds of thousands of years ago the light was sown, and now the harvest is being reaped.
God gives gladness to those who are upright in heart, who are godly. Genuine godliness is a matter of the heart.
Be glad in the Lord, you righteous ones, and praise His holy name!
Every believer in the church has a part to play in helping the gospel resound around the world for the glory of God.
Acts 17:26 From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries where they live. V27 he did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. . .30 Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this by raising Him from the dead.